Chadbourne moves in on Coudert’s Central Asia business

New York firm Chadbourne & Parke became the latest firm to benefit from the disintegration of Coudert Brothers when it took on a team from its Kazakhstan office last week.

Kenneth Mack joins Chadbourne as a partner and head of its new Almaty office, together with five associates. Coudert said that despite the exodus it would retain a presence in the Kazakhstan capital.

A Coudert spokesperson said: “Thomas O’Brien remains managing partner of the Almaty office, a position he has held for two years, and the firm continues to service its clients there.”

Chadbourne’s raid follows Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe‘s capture of Coudert’s Moscow and London offices last month. Chadbourne now has offices in Almaty, Moscow, Kiev (Ukraine) and Tashkent (Uzbekistan), where it focuses on oil and gas infrastructure projects.

Baker & McKenzie (B&M) is still negotiating with Coudert about a full-scale merger, but will not be too disappointed with the firm shedding more of its fringe offices.

The New York office of Coudert is the key attraction for B&M, which needs to beef up its corporate practice in the US financial centre.

B&M is conducting due diligence on Coudert’s other offices, with Paris and Beijing emerging as the most attractive at this stage.

A merger with Coudert is likely to see Australia cast adrift and the firm faces competition from DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary in China.

DLA Piper is also keen to secure Coudert’s Brussels office and its German practice, which was discarded by the firm last month. Coudert’s Belgian partners are conducting parallel negotiations with suitors and with Coudert’s central management over a new remuneration deal.

With Bangkok, Hong Kong, Paris and Brussels looking for exits, that would leave Coudert with just its three US offices, plus St Petersburg, Tokyo and Australian offices in Sydney and Melbourne.