Dechert makes fresh assault on Chadbourne with hire of 11-lawyer Almaty team

The cold war between Dechert and Chadbourne & Parke has broken out again with almost an entire office switching sides.

Dechert has raided Chadbourne’s energy practice team to help launch its new office in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Energy and natural resources lawyer Kenneth Mack, who was managing partner of Chadbourne’s local office, has joined Dechert as a partner to lead a 11-strong team in the commercial capital of the country.

The team is made up of partners Victor Mokrousov, Sergei Vataev, and Mukhit Yeleuov and associates Ainur Abdalova, Abzal Kassymzhanov, Yevgeniya Nossova, Nadezhda Oparina, Benjamin Paine, Elshat Seksembayeva and Asel Yermekova.

Mack, who is president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Kazakhstan and has lived in the country for more than decade, advises in the energy, telecoms, capital markets and bank and project financing sectors throughout Central Asia and Russia.

He also acts as counsel to multinational companies on a variety of investment disputes with private entities in Kazakhstan.

The loss of the office will reopen old wounds for Chadbourne after a bitter dispute erupted when Dechert poached a number of its senior partners in Russia three years ago (8 May 2009).

A five-partner team defected from Chadbourne to Dechert’s Moscow office, despite attempts to scupper the move and derail the latter’s office opening. But just a few months later partner Konstantin Konstantov rejoined Chadbourne & Parke (16 September 2009).

Dechert Russia head Laura Brank was one of those to make the controversial move and today she said she was looking forward to working with Mack and the new team on cross-border deals with multi-national corporate clients.

However, Chadbourne claimed the blow was “not inconsistent” with its overall strategy, suggesting other markets in different countries offered “greater growth potential”.

Managing partner Andrew Giaccia said: “We wish Ken Mack and all in the Almaty office much success. They’ve served the firm and its clients well.

“And we’ll continue to refer those clients who need counsel in Almaty to the office as the opportunities arise. Chadbourne is well known for its high quality emerging markets practices, and the firm has expanded and will continue to expand in markets which we and our clients view as having the greatest potential for growth and the greatest need for our services.

“The departure of the Almaty office is not inconsistent with our strategic vision for the Firm. In the last few years we began shifting our resources to our offices in other markets with greater potential for us and expanding into other high growth markets, as evidenced by our recent opening of offices in Brazil and Turkey.”

Dechert CEO Daniel O’Donnell said: “The smooth and seamless transition of this office has been paramount to us.

“Our first priority has been to make sure our clients’ needs are met. Ken and his team are dynamic and entrepreneurial lawyers whose practice enjoys strong ties and synergies with our Moscow office and our practices in Central Asia and China. Their talent and knowledge of an increasingly important region adds tremendous experience and resources to our global energy practice, a key area of expansion for the firm, and we are delighted to welcome them to Dechert.”

The team’s clients have included major international corporations such as ExxonMobil, Shell, China National Petroleum Corporation and Conoco Phillips, on various transactional, regulatory and litigation matters.