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CAMERON McKenna is expanding in central and eastern Europe with local mergers and a new Romanian office.
Polish merger plans are due to be unveiled in March, The Lawyer can reveal.
"From the end of the month, we will have 90 lawyers based in Warsaw, between 20 and 25 in Budapest and 10 to 15 in Prague," says the firm's senior partner Bill Shelford.
He adds: "[These offices are] very, very busy. All three are performing to budget, or above budget."
Partner Robert Windmill, head of Camerons' central and eastern European practice, confirms he is looking to open an office in the Romanian capital Bucharest.
He was in Bucharest last week on a fact finding mission. Before leaving, he said: "Romania is beginning to wake up."
Lawyers predict Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic to be the first former Soviet bloc states to join the European Union.
Shelford comments: "They are western looking. They have turned around their economies."
Chicago-based Altheimer & Gray, which has an office in Bucharest, is warning Romania may be a difficult market for new entrants to crack because of regulatory constraints on lawyers.
Altheimer's Warsaw partner David Dixon says: "Efforts to establish offices in Romania have met with various degrees of success."
Other firms are eyeing eastern Europe. Freshfields and German firm Deringer Tessin Herrmann & Sedemund merged their Moscow offices last year, while their Austrian partner, Wolf Theiss, has set up shop in the Czech capital Prague and is now expanding that office.
Freshfields is also looking at the Polish and Hungarian markets.