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The departure of a senior Russian capital markets lawyer from Clifford Chance's Moscow office has sparked concerns that other staff may be about to leave.
Clifford Chance is believed to have left other Moscow staff in the dark about the reasons for Tim Kibatullin's departure.
John Holmes, partner at the firm's Moscow office, says: "One lawyer has left and another will probably leave."
He says it would "not be fair" to reveal the reasons for Kibatullin leaving the firm, but says the "absence of capital markets work was a factor".
He adds that most of the Moscow office's capital markets lawyers are being redeployed in other areas, especially in refinancing and general financial markets work.
Kibatullin's departure has raised eyebrows in the office because quality Russian lawyers are highly sought after in Moscow, where assistants' earnings match those in New York.
Clifford Chance is understood to be trying to keep its reductions of staff at a low profile to avoid the publicity that was attracted by Allen & Overy's staff cuts last September, when the firm sacked five Russian lawyers from its Moscow operation.
The Lawyer understands that this action severely damaged Allen & Overy's reputation in Moscow and may harm its chances in competing for Russian lawyers when the market picks up.