Countries for Westerners

Ah, the rugged Ukraine. Who would have thought that this former Soviet republic would be the place for a new goldrush? As we report today (17 September), Camerons has broken with its highly conservative tradition with a mass hire into its new Kiev office. Camerons’ move will be eyed closely by several other international firms that have already identified Ukraine as the next potentially lucrative market.

International expansion is firmly ensconced as a strategy not just in the magic circle, but in firms way down The Lawyer UK 100. Look at Denton Wilde Sapte, which scaled back dramatically in 2003, beheading its Asia offices and divorcing its European network. But as we reveal today, its Middle East practice is scorching: hiring much of Patton Boggs’ Qatar office is a definite coup and puts it well ahead of much of the competition in the Gulf.

So to save managing partners the trouble of logging on to Google Earth, here’s The Lawyer’s international strategy guide to ‘What’s Hot And What’s Not’.

1. Ukraine. In with a bullet at number one this week. German firm Beiten Burkhardt also just landed a bunch of lawyers there, but more significantly Clifford Chance is interested in the medium term, as is Linklaters.

2. Brazil. Clifford Chance was the only international firm with a presence there until Mayer Brown hired local managing partner Stephen Hood the other week. Two other magic circle firms love the idea. Could be higher up the charts were it not for the fact that “Brazil sounds terribly glamorous, but São Paolo is not necessarily a crime-free place”, as one managing partner delicately puts it.

3. Saudi. Pots of money available, but let’s not mince our words. It’s possibly the least appealing jurisdiction a Western lawyer could inhabit.

4. Romania. Joining the EU has removed much of the political risk. Clifford Chance and Links love it, and they’re not the only elite UK firms. Good place to send your keenest associates wanting partnership.5. Dubai. Popular even among regional firms (HBJ, anyone?), but plummeting down the charts from being massively overlawyered. Also has the disadvantage of having only one road, pretty much.6. Turkey. Our hot tip. Freshfields wouldn’t say no, put it that way.

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