White & Case to shut Tashkent arm

US firm White & Case is closing its two-year-old Tashkent office at the end of February.

The seven members of staff have been given notice and are being assisted in finding new jobs.

A source at the firm said that although having an office in Uzbekistan was convenient it was not necessary as a high proportion of Uzbek work was done out of other offices notably Almaty, London, Warsaw and Washington DC.

He added: 'It was a small office and we wanted to concentrate on offices with good growth potential.'

The source also stated that it was 'difficult to maintain consistency in staffing', especially so when persuading lawyers to transfer to Tashkent.

The firm had one lawyer, who was locally qualified, permanently based in the city.

The firm set up the office in 1995 and was one of two foreign law firms with a formal presence in Uzbekistan. The other is UK firm Cameron McKenna.

Elsewhere in the CIS, plans by Baker & McKenzie to set up in Baku in Azerbaijan, Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan and Tashkent are well-advanced.

The firm could not be drawn on details, but a spokesperson said it hoped to open in these cities 'in the near future'.

Baker & McKenzie already has people on the ground in Bishkek and Tashkent.

Last year, its Toronto office took on Marina Stevens, a US lawyer who started up the Bishkek office of Mayer Brown & Platt.

It has also taken on another Mayer Brown lawyer in the Kyrgyz capital.