Dewey Moscow latest office to mull defection

Lawyers at Dewey & LeBoeuf’s Moscow office are weighing their options after offers from US, UK and even Chinese firms.

According to a source close to the firm, Dewey’s Moscow partners have been in talks with a number of firms with offices in Moscow, including White & Case, about a possible move. But while previous discussions have only looked at taking on select members from the office, it is understood that more recently a number of firms without a base in Russia have expressed interest in taking the entire team.

Most of the firms looking to establish an office in Russia with the help of Dewey’s Moscow team have been from the US, but one of China’s largest firms also made an approach, though this has since been declined.

According to the same source, Dewey’s team is now “very aggressively considering these options” while also holding out to see what proposals are made to keep the team within the firm.

“A number of individual partners had been talking to firms, including White & Case,” said the source. “White & Case makes sense because it’s one of the market leaders here, although it already has a pretty robust team. But recently a number of firms approached Dewey’s Moscow partners with a view to taking the whole office and that’s changed everything.”

The news comes following reports that four London partners are in talks to move to US firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, though it is understood that no agreement has been reached. The partners looking to move to Akin Gump are understood to include oil and gas sector chair John LaMaster and bank and institutional finance group chair Bruce Johnston.

One former Dewey partner described how LaMaster was close to current Akin Gump partner Douglas Glass, with whom he worked at Vinson & Elkins, which could have prompted the talks.

Another former Dewey partner, however, expressed surprise about Johnston’s inclusion on the list, describing him as a loyalist and one of Dewey’s core team in London.

In a statement, Akin Gump international managing partner Rick Burdick said: “Akin Gump regularly talks to potential lateral candidates who may be a good fit with the firm. However, we’re unable to provide any confirmation of hires until there’s an agreement between all parties.”

A Dewey spokesperson commented only to say that neither LaMaster or Johnston had resigned from the firm.