Greenberg Traurig's Miami office.
Greenberg Traurig’s Miami office. (Photo: J. Albert Diaz/ALM)

Greenberg Traurig has significantly bolstered its Warsaw office with the hire of an 11-lawyer real estate team from Hogan Lovells, including that firm’s local practice head, Jolanta Nowakowska-Zimoch.

The group also comprises partners Agata Jurek-Zbrojska, Małgorzata Madej-Balcerowska and Justyna Szwech, who have joined Greenberg as partners.

Nowakowska-Zimoch will take charge of Greenberg’s Polish real estate practice, which now comprises more than 40 lawyers. In a statement, she described the move as “tremendously exciting.”

Greenberg Traurig Warsaw senior partner Lejb Fogelman said the hires represent a “tremendous win” for the firm.

Hogan Lovells said in a statement: “While we’re sorry to see a number of our real estate and antitrust members move on, our Warsaw and broader European real estate and antitrust practices are very strong market leaders and will continue to expand.”

A Hogan Lovells spokeswoman said that senior associate Michal Zajazczkowski will now head the firm’s Polish real estate practice on an interim basis until a replacement partner is hired. The practice will also be overseen by local corporate head Marek Wroniak.

Greenberg and Hogan Lovells were both ranked in the top tier for Polish real estate and construction work in the latest edition of the directory The Legal 500.

International law firms flocked to Poland during the 1990s and early 2000s, seeking to tap into a glut of large-scale privatization work. U.S.-based law firms collectively have more lawyers in Warsaw than in Moscow, Munich or Milan, according to NLJ 350 data. Dentons and CMS are the largest two international firms in Poland, with more than 100 lawyers each.

But as the government’s privatization drive came to an end, the big-ticket M&A and IPO deals have all but dried up. And with the market having become overlawyered, international law firms now face a double whammy of intense competition and severe pricing pressure from clients.

White & Case is among the firms that have downsized their local presence, while the Warsaw office of legacy Chadbourne & Parke (now Norton Rose Fulbright) spun off last year to form a stand-alone practice—Radzikowski, Szubielska i Wspólnicy.

Greenberg Traurig, on the other hand, has continued to invest in the country, and last year launched a stand-alone disputes practice with the hire of White & Case’s former Polish managing partner, Paweł Pietkiewicz.