DLA Piper raids CMS in Central Europe

DLA Piper Weiss-Tessbach, the Austro-Czech arm of DLA Piper, has poached the Sofia head of CMS Cameron McKenna for its fledgling Prague office.

Commercial partner Peter Valert worked out of both Camerons’ Prague and Sofia offices, his TMT practice ran across Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).

“DLA is a firm on the move,” Valert told The Lawyer. “With their UK and US aspects, they’re becoming a powerhouse and it allows me to develop my media contacts, which is what I want to do.”

Valert was instrumental in setting up the firm’s Bulgarian presence in 2004. His departure comes as a blow to the office, which is now left with just one partner, lifesciences lawyer David Butts who came from Hayhurst Robinson.

The firm’s CEE offering, which is regarded as one of the strongest in the region, offering was also hit last May by a four-partner defection from its Warsaw office to Clifford Chance.

Czech-born Valert worked on files such as Belgacom and Dresdner Kleinwort Capital, as well as representing nearly all of the major Hollywood studios in entertainment law matters.

Valert joined the firm when it was McKenna & Co in 1995 and previously worked at the Czech Minsitry of Foreign Affairs and at the Czechoslovak Federal Supreme Court, giving him the political contacts that are so important to doing business in the CEE.

“We’re sorry to see him go,” said Cameron’s managing partner of its Prague office, Hilary McDowell, “But we’re confident we’ll manage. His clients were firm clients, and we worked as a team across the CEE.”

Valert’s replacement is Antonin Kazda.