Herbert Smith reels as Europe litigation head quits for Dechert

The head of Herbert Smith’s litigation, arbitration practice and employment group is leaving the firm for Dechert, barely a year after he was promoted to the role.

The head of Herbert Smith’s litigation, arbitration practice and employment group is leaving the firm for Dechert, barely a year after he was promoted to the role.

Dmitry Kurochkin had replaced Paris partner Denis Chemla, who himself stayed a month in the same role before quitting for Allen & Overy with fellow litigators Michael Young and Erwan Poisson.

Kurochkin was promoted to partner in 2004 and in 2011 he was appointed as the firm’s overall head of dispute resolution for Continental Europe, the Middle East and Africa (CEMEA). He joined Herbert Smith in 2002 after a stint at Clifford Chance.

The news that Dechert has made moves to reinforce its disputes offering comes as little surprise considering the firm infamously lost litigation partners Ivan Marisin and Vasily Kuznetsov to Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan in 2009. Both lawyers had joined Dechert just the previous year from Clifford Chance. (19 October 2011)

The move is particularly interesting given the firm’s hiring and retention history in Russia. In 2009 Dechert poached a number of senior partners and associates from Chadbourne & Parke to set up its own office in the Russian capital (8 May 2009).

But after five partners reportedly handed in their notice, only three, including Dechert’s current office managing partner Laura Brank, eventually went through with the move (16 September 2009).

Dechert’s Moscow coup was mirrored in Almaty just earlier this year when Chadbourne’s Almaty managing partner Kenneth Mack joined Dechert with another 10 lawyers in tow (5 April 2012).

Dechert and Quinn are not the only law firms seen to be making hires in litigation and arbitration. In October last year White & Case hired Grigory Chernyshov from Russian law firm Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners to head its Russian dispute resolution practice. (13 October 2011) Earlier last year King & Spalding made three lateral hires from Hogan Lovells, including corporate and litigation expert Sergei Komolov (10 May 2011).

In May 2012 Berwin Leighton Paisner hired arbitration expert Roman Khodykin from Clifford Chance’s Moscow office. Although based in London, Khodykin works closely with BLP’s Moscow arm, Goltsblat BLP.

All these hires in the litigation and arbitration field come as Russia continues to push Moscow as a viable forum for disputes (2 April 2012) and as many foreign firms are making concerted efforts to gain expertise in Russian-related litigation.

Herbert Smith declined to comment.

Neither Kurochkin nor Dechert were able to be reached for comment.