Race for Russian lawyers hots up

The new Moscow legal office of Price Waterhouse (PW) has poached Russian lawyers from Deloitte & Touche and Denton Hall, as competition among international firms for the best Russian lawyers hots up.

Alexander Podulsky, a director in Deloittes' legal and tax department, joins PW this week to head its tax litigation department.

Also joining the 20-strong PW team is Igor Pozhitkov, a senior intellectual property lawyer at Denton Hall, and Alexei Patsez, who comes from a Russian energy company.

Dmitri Chebotarev and Natalia Zakhorova have joined from Lovell White Durrant, while Svetlana Bystrova joins from German firm Punder Volhard Weber & Axster.

Brian Kimble, Moscow resident partner at US firm Leboeuf Lamb Greene & MacRae and president of the International Lawyers Group, said that the hunt was on for good Western-trained Russian lawyers.

“There are a lot of new entrants to the marketplace and there is a terrible demand for new talent,” he said.

“We are also finding that we are having to compete with the banks and companies for our attorneys.”

He added that his firm had recently lost lawyers to clients Credit Suisse and Pepsi, and had a policy of putting Russian lawyers on “the partnership track” as soon as they joined the practice.

Cameron McKenna has also poached lawyers from rival firms.

John Hammond, a partner at the Moscow office of Cameron McKenna, said that while there were a number of firms building up their Russian practices, there were also some which had down-sized.

He said: “There are more than 60 foreign law firms registered in Moscow but the real question is what happens after two to three years.”

Hammond predicted that a number of firms would leave Moscow.

However, he said that Cameron McKenna was planning to expand operations and develop its key practice areas.