… but axes 13 from Moscow practice

Freshfields has announced 13 redundancies at its Moscow office – and refuses to give assurances that more will not follow.

A spokeswoman from the firm confirms that three Russian lawyers and 10 support staff have recently been cut from the office due to the country's economic difficulties.

“If you look at investment banks, accountants and other law firms there, they have already made some cuts and scaled back their operations,” she says.

“We have been fortunate not to have had to make cuts before this point in time.”

On whether any further redundancies are planned she says the firm will “keep an eye on the economic situation and there may be another review in the future”.

The Moscow office is a joint enterprise with Freshfields' alliance partner Deringer Tessin Herrmann & Sedemund, but all three of the lawyers who are being laid off are from Freshfields.

The firm refuses to name the three departing lawyers but says that they are all generalists rather than attached to any one department.

However, the three are believed to be Pobokovski, Ivanov and Oleimt, all of whom have been with Freshfields since September 1997.

Managing partner Ian Terry says he regrets the cutbacks.

He adds: “We are committed to staying in Moscow for the long term. We have held off from making any cuts for as long as possible, but now that there seems little prospect of an early improvement in the Russian economic and financial situation, some job losses are unfortunately unavoidable.”

The Freshfields' spokeswoman says that while it is unfortunate that it has had to lose anyone, there are still 20 lawyers at the office, including three partners.

Freshfields is not the first UK firm to have to cut back its Moscow practice since the market collapsed.

Allen & Overy lost five lawyers last year and Clifford Chance has also lost at least one.