Coopers restocks after Warsaw exodus

ACCOUNTANCY giant Coopers & Lybrand has recruited a second new lawyer to its Polish office in an effort to replenish the team following a walkout last December.

Wojciech Nowak started in the office's eight-member tax and legal department earlier this month, joining senior Dutch lawyer Camiel Van der Meij who was brought in from Coopers' Holland practice in February.

The partner in charge of Coopers in Poland, accountant Tim Heaton, says Nowak, who moved from Warsaw's TG Consultant and Van der Meij are among a series of recruits that are planned for the department.

He confirms other lawyers are being interviewed by Coopers, which lost its legal head Andrew Koslowski – formerly in-house counsel with Warsaw's Ministry of Finance – to UK firm McKenna & Co at the end of last year.

At the time of Koslowski's departure seven other lawyers also left the Coopers office – four went to McKennas and two to US firms.

It is not known where the eighth lawyer of the previous team is now working.

“We've recruited two people so far and we're still looking to add to our team,” says Heaton. “Obviously this takes time because we want to make sure that we've got the right people.

“In a developing marketplace like Poland there aren't that many people with the right mix of skills and experience, especially when you consider that the current market conditions have only been in existence since 1989.”

Heaton says it has not been decided how many lawyers will be employed by the tax and legal department, which now works in conjunction with Polish law firms on many of its projects.

However, he says “at present we need more legal expertise within the operation”.

“We need legal skills within the firm that make sure that we, as a company, are doing the right thing,” he says.

“What we're aiming to do is to link together the various traditional skills – accounting, auditing, consultancy, general business advice, information technology and tax and legal.”

Heaton denies reports that the department has suffered losses as a result of strong competition from firms in the UK and the US, saying Coopers only operates “a small niche practice of law”.

“We are not set up to be a full-range legal firm in the same way as an international or even a local law firm is,” he says.

“Coopers is only focused on providing assistance to corporate entities in relation to their business activities.

“We are not ever going to be looking at family law, civil law or criminal law. We are only looking at those aspects of law that are involved with Coopers' daily life.”

Nicole Maley