Squire Sanders has raided fellow US firm LeBoeuf Lamb Greene & MacRae for a head for its Russian real estate practice, part of a continued growth strategy in Russia and Eastern Europe.
Dmitry Kunitsa, who was counsel at his former firm, is the first high-profile departure for LeBoeuf since it announced its forthcoming merger with Dewey Ballantine last week (www.thelawyer.com, 28 August). It is understood, however, that Squire Sanders had set its sights on Kunitsa prior to the merger plans.
LeBoeuf Russia managing partner Brian Zimbler told The Lawyer that four lawyers are currently working on real estate in Russia and that he is also spending more time on real estate matters. "It's one of Russia's hottest practice areas. We're making one senior-level hire from a competitor as well as looking at other opportunities," he said.
LeBoeuf retains a 33-lawyer presence in Moscow ahead of the merger, including six partners.
Squire Sanders' hire of Kunitsa follows that of Tom Ujejski in June, the former Warsaw managing partner at Baker & McKenzie.
Kunitsa is bringing two of his associates, Uliana Norko and Tamara Shabazova, across to Squire Sanders.
Squire Sanders Russia managing partner Ivan Trifonov said: "Kunitsa and his team join us at a crucial time, just as the Russian real estate market is maturing and taking a different direction than some of the countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The real estate market in Russia is booming, with commercial real estate investment volumes reaching €3.4bn [£2.3bn] in 2006, which is 10 times what it was in 2005."
Squire Sanders' Eastern Europe and CIS offices include Warsaw, Bratislava, Moscow, Prague and Budapest, while it has associated offices in Kiev and Bucharest.