Dechert and Chadbourne lock horns over Moscow team

Dechert and Chadbourne & Parke were locked in a battle last week over the future of a five-partner team in the latter’s Moscow office.

Bart Winokur

Bart Winokur

Dechert looked all set to unveil the hire of the group, which includes Chadbourne’s Russia head Laura Brank, on Thursday (7 May). However, a last-ditch attempt to persuade the group to stay raised the possibility that at least some of the partners will remain with Chadbourne.

“Discussions with the partners continue and the final outcome is not yet certain,” Chadbourne managing partner Charlie O’Neill told The Lawyer on Friday (8 May).

Dechert remained confident, however, that the entire team would be joining the firm.

The group considering joining Dechert includes Brank, the managing ­partner of Chadbourne’s Moscow and St Petersburg offices, whose clients in-clude PepsiCo, Kinross Gold and Golden Telecom, and four other partners.

It also includes banking and finance partner Jennifer Handz and infrastructure specialist Shane DeBeer. All five of the partners are understood to have given notice to Chadbourne.

Should they ultimately join Dechert they are likely to be followed by a number of Chadbourne associates, although it is understood no discussions have so far taken place in this respect.

Dechert chairman Bart Winokur told The Lawyer that the new partners were “a very good fit” for his firm.

“Their practice is very internationally focused with strong UK law capabilities,” Winokur added. “It’s a very good fit with what we already do in Europe and is also significant in terms of us expanding our international base.”

Chadbourne became one of the first US firms to establish an office in Moscow when it opened in 1990. It currently has around 30 US, English and Russian-qualified lawyers.

Elsewhere in Europe, Dechert continued to bolster its position, particularly in Paris, where at the end of April the firm hired François Hellot, a corporate partner resident in Fried Frank’s Paris office.

Hellot joined Dechert on 30 April as a partner in the firm’s corporate and securities practice.