DWS inherits Coudert Almaty

Denton Wilde Sapte (DWS) has hiked its Central Asia practice with a team of eight corporate lawyers from Coudert Brothers’ Almaty office.

As the disintegration of Coudert’s international network began in July, the firm’s Almaty office was wrenched in two when US firm Chad-bourne & Parke took a team of six associates to launch its office in Kazakhstan.

Coudert Kazakhstan managing partner Tom O’Brien joins DWS as a partner, bringing with him seven associates and core Kazakhstan clients such as Total, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and ChevronTexaco.

The recruitment brings DWS’s capacity in Central Asia to 26 lawyers between its Almaty, Kazakhstan and Tashkent, Uzbekistan offices. Marla Valdez will continue to be the managing partner of both offices.

O’Brien has worked in the region since 1991 and specialises in energy, transport and infrastructure – a core practice for DWS. He has previously advised on major pipeline, refinery, power generation and mining projects.

O’Brien told The Lawyer that DWS was a “natural fit”, adding: “There’s a real synergy in terms of focus and culture.”

DWS chief executive officer Howard Morris said: “Kazakhstan is one of only a few places in the world with substantially untapped oil and gas reserves, and we’re now seeing the entry into this market by some of the world’s leading energy companies.”

The Asian growth coincides with growth in Russia, where DWS has trebled its size in the past 12 months, giving the firm more than 50 lawyers in the two regions.