Latvia: Sorainen welcomes new partners and managing partners

Published on Dec 18, 2023

Sorainen announces Eva Berlaus as new firm managing partner and Ieva Andersone as country managing partner of Latvian office

On 1 January Eva Berlaus, former country managing partner at our Latvian office, will became managing partner at Sorainen, taking over the role from Laimonas Skibarka. Ieva Andersone, head of our Commercial and Regulatory practice in Latvia, has been appointed as the new country managing partner in Latvia.

Both leaders have played a vital part in the development of Sorainen and risen to top leadership positions from within the firm.

Eva joined Sorainen as a lawyer in 2000, and in 2010 became the first female country managing partner among the leading Baltic law firms, having built her reputation as one of the most distinguished M&A lawyers in the region. Ieva joined our firm as an assistant lawyer in 2005 and joined our partnership in 2019, as a leading expert advising on complex competition law and intellectual property law cases, as well as on various regulatory matters.

“As a new-generation leader, Eva has the capability to lead our firm through the changing landscape while focusing on the needs of both our clients and our team,” commented Laimonas Skibarka, Sorainen managing partner for the past nine years. He added that both Eva and Ieva bring strong energy and vision, and are taking the helms with the ambition to consolidate Sorainen as the clear market leader in the Baltic region.

Eva Berlaus: We will continue to invest in innovation, excellence and well-being

Under Eva’s leadership, the Sorainen Latvian office has grown to over 100 people and established itself as a clear market leader in Latvia. Eva is passionate about law firm management and recently graduated with an executive MBA from the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, focusing her studies on ESG-related aspects.

Eva Berlaus noted that Sorainen law firm has grown along with the Baltic economies, and that our core purpose – to grow prosperity in the region by helping our clients succeed in business – will remain at the heart of everything Sorainen does.

“Collaboration, reliability, integrity, and striving for excellence and innovation are at the heart of our firm. We respect each other and everyone we work with,” Eva commented. She added that she would continue to support the values and strategy Sorainen has pursued for years by promoting balanced investment in developing services for clients, supporting technological advancement, and caring for the team’s development and well-being. “Importantly, we expect to deepen our industry expertise, focusing on the growing fields of ESG, defence, white collar, energy and private clients, to name a few.”

Eva added that she was especially happy to have become our firm’s first female managing partner, hoping that we had set an example that will foster diversity and inclusion in our region and beyond. She also said that the Sorainen team would continue to be active citizens working to ensure our region is a safe, green, sustainable and prosperous place. Eva herself has supported and created initiatives that promote accessibility of healthcare services for children and young people in Latvia.

Ieva Andersone: My goal will be to strengthen cooperation

Ieva Andersone heads one of the most diverse practice groups in the Latvian office, the Commercial & Regulatory team, which covers a lot of different legal expertise areas. Ieva’s team has handled numerous international landmark projects, including ensuring compliance with competition law, defence in cases of alleged infringements, advising on merger control matters, protecting intellectual property, and handling GDPR projects.

Ieva heads the Life Sciences & Healthcare sector group at Sorainen, and is actively involved in the Technology, Media & Telecommunications sector group. She is a keen supporter of young lawyers and leaders, and acts as a mentor and Think Tank lecturer, as well as participating in the Sorainen student academy and moot court projects. Ieva gladly shares her opinions and gives interviews, explaining legal issues in plain and simple language.

Ieva devotes her time and expertise to social causes. She recently contributed to the Latvian Children’s Hospital Foundation and Ukrainian refugee support projects, and she is an active member of her local neighbourhood association.

“I feel confident about the growth course the Latvian office has taken. As the number of Latvian office employees now exceeds 100 people, it will allow our lawyers and tax consultants to specialise in depth,” Ieva said. “As the head of a fairly large organisation, my goal will be to strengthen the successful cooperation of our people and teams, as well as an efficient, transparent and comfortable work environment, which in turn will be reflected in customer satisfaction with the services we provide.”

Ieva added that, responding to the needs of clients, the Latvian office is strengthening several legal areas and sectors, particularly energy, climate and ESG, technology and life sciences, dispute resolution and risk management. With regard to disputes and risk management, there will be special focus on work with criminal and reputational matters, assistance to clients in relation to public administration, and strategic advice.

Continuity of leadership and new focuses

For the past nine years Sorainen has been led by partner Laimonas Skibarka, including four years of co-managing together with partner Toomas Prangli. After the transition, Laimonas will continue contributing to the firm’s leadership as a member of the board. He will dedicate himself to developing our firm’s sector focus, and will do more client work primarily in M&A, private equity, venture capital transactions and advising private clients.

Recognised public procurement expert Kadri Härginen becomes partner of Sorainen

Dr. Kadri Härginen, head of the firm’s public procurement and public projects sub-practice, has been promoted to partner.

As a result of the management changes that took effect in January, most of Sorainen’s top leaders are now women. Chief Operating Officer (COO) Eglė Venskūnienė leads the office along with Eva Berlaus. The country managing partner of the Lithuanian office is Saulė Dagilytė. Kaupo Lepasepp continues as the country managing partner of the Estonian office.

Kadri becomes the fifth partner on Sorainen’s 28-member Dispute Resolution and Risk Management team at the Estonian office, which is led by Carri Ginter, Allar Jõks, Norman Aas and Maria Pihlak.

"I met Kadri when she was still a second-year university student. The close relationship we built when we were lecturer and student has developed, and we’ve gone on a journey together. Today, Kadri is an internationally recognised expert, among both practitioners and academics. In addition to her legal expertise, Kadri possesses excellent personal qualities, making collaboration with her enjoyable both for clients and for her colleagues. I am sincerely glad that the Sorainen partners have unanimously decided to support her joining the partnership," says partner Carri Ginter, commending Kadri’s work.
"Our clients always expect excellent service, meaningful and practical business-focused advice from us, even if the legal landscape is constantly evolving. Our team has made an effort to provide precisely such advice, whether in the field of public procurement, employment disputes, or any other matter," says Kadri. "Public procurement may seem like a mundane and old field, but it still involves many complex issues that can determine the fate of large-scale projects. A recent trend in public procurement disputes is their increasing specificity, especially in the field of EU and state funding, where disputes over fund recovery are not only practically, but also legally very complex. I enjoy contributing with the team to discussions on public procurement that significantly impact Estonian society, ensuring the success of important projects for Estonia. I am very grateful to both clients and the team for the ongoing trust and exciting challenges," she adds.

Long-term experience in strategic public procurement and public law disputes

A team of public procurement experts led by Kadri has advised both tenderers and contracting authorities on numerous large-scale, previously unpracticed public procurements and disputes. For example, advising Škoda on the construction of 10 additional electric trains for Elron, the procurement of 23 new trams for Tallinna Linnatransport, and building two compressed gas stations and purchasing compressed gas for all Tallinn’s natural-gas powered buses, the construction of the Ülemiste joint terminal by Rail Baltic Estonia, representing Elering on providing energy security in Estonia, representing Tallinn in the dispute over new waiting pavilions in two cases etc.

The estimated total cost of these public procurement projects alone exceeds EUR 500 million. Recently, Kadri’s team has been successful in some of the most difficult disputes related to public procurement, which concern claims for the recovery of state support funds.

Kadri also has considerable experience in other public law disputes, especially those concerning state liability. The most significant of them are Lux Express’s dispute with the state regarding the compensation of free rides, based on which all commercial line carriers can now receive compensation from the state, and representing the state in a dispute with Merko.

Dedicated work in raising public awareness in the field of public procurement

Along with the rest of her team, Kadri is the creator of the free and publicly available video training series Procurement School. In these video lectures, knowledge derived from extensive consulting experience in public procurement law is shared, covering everything from basic theory to the more complex legal issues that arise in practice.

Kadri is the only practicing attorney in Estonia with a PhD in public procurement law. She is also a member of the Estonian Bar Association’s Administrative Law Commission and is a co-author of the Estonian Public Procurement Law Commentary. In addition, Kadri has provided training for judges, state authorities, local authorities, and businesses focusing on public procurement. Kadri also teaches public procurement law at the University of Tartu School of Law.

Complex employment disputes as expertise

Kadri’s secondary field of expertise lies in employment law disputes, including representing employers in cases where an employee has been diagnosed with an occupational disease. „As a trend, we can highlight the increase of disputes related to occupational diseases. We have a strong team, specialized in resolving such disputes, and we aim to be a reliable partner for clients in any future labor dispute,“ emphasizes Kadri.

In 2013, Kadri joined Sorainen from the public sector, having worked for seven years as a public procurement specialist and policymaker, including at the Estonian Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Finance. Over these ten years, she has grown into a strong leader and the head of an international team at Sorainen. Among colleagues, Kadri is a beloved and recognised mentor and trainer; she has been selected as „Mentor of the Year“ three times.

Aija Lasmane joins the regional Sorainen partnership

On 1 January 2024, Aija Lasmane joined the Sorainen partnership and, together with long-serving tax leader Jānis Taukačs, will head the Sorainen Latvia Tax practice, specialising in direct and international tax law and structuring M&A transactions. She has extensive experience in managing transfer pricing projects in collaboration with our international tax network’s WTS Transfer Pricing Centre in the Philippines.

Aija Lasmane joined the Sorainen Latvia Tax team in 2013. Her professional experience in the field of tax consulting and finance goes back as far as 1996, having worked at the tax departments of two of the “big four” and at a leading commercial bank. International Tax Review nominated Aija as a recognised tax expert in the Latvian section for 2024. Aija is a member of the Latvian Tax Consultants Association.

Looking at the future development of the tax consulting practice, Aija emphasises “I want to strengthen our existing reputation as a strategic tax partner, in particular by enabling our clients to grow in export markets, as we collaborate with the tax specialists from the WTS network across over 100 countries.”
Sorainen partner Jānis Taukačs comments on strengthening the Tax team: “The Latvian office, with ten full-time tax experts, can compete with the best tax experts in the country, offering the full spectrum of services at top quality. On our team it’s mostly experienced experts, rather than students, who work on projects. Many subscribers like Sorainen’s tax news and other information that we regularly share with anyone interested. The advantage we have is the integration of our office with the Tax practices in Lithuania and Estonia, as well as the ability to consult together with WTS in any country of the world. Under Aija’s co-leadership, I will be able to focus much more on developing resolutions for tax disputes and indirect tax practice. This is all very good news for our clients.”