Camerons loses seven partners from Warsaw

CMS Cameron McKenna’s Warsaw office is reeling from the loss of seven partners within a single month, with associate departures expected in the coming weeks.

Lovells is taking six in its latest move towards European expansion only three weeks after it took on two White & Case Frankfurt partners (The Lawyer, 16 October).

Lovells’ haul includes corporate partner Janusz Adamkowski, corporate and insurance partner Beata Balas-Noszczyk and tax partner Andrzej Debiec. Property and dispute resolution partner Jolanta Nowakowska-Zimoch is also joining, with capital markets and litigation partner Karol Rutkowski and corporate and employment lawyer Marek Wroniak.

Linklaters & Alliance’s Polish office has taken banking partner Grazyna Postepska.

Commenting on his decision to leave, Wroniak says: “If someone feels ill [at ease] within the [firm] they are working in, then they should go.”

The losses will leave Camerons’ Warsaw office with just 13 partners, although Steven Shone, Warsaw managing partner, says the firm is “relaxed” about the departures, because with a total of 79 fee-earners it remains the largest foreign practice in the country. He adds that associates have also been approached.

In a statement, Camerons says: “Every key partner and associate who is important to the future of our practice in Warsaw is staying with us, and each shares our common vision of contributing to the creation of a leading international law firm.”

Shone expects the market to heat up with the infiltration of UK firms, including Norton Rose, which recently took on two partners from Baker & McKenzie‘s Warsaw office.

Lovells, too, has a presence in the region via its merger with Boesebeck Droste, which had a Warsaw office.

Christian Schmidt, managing partner at Lovells’ Warsaw office, says the group of partners first approached his firm in the summer. “It’s been three years that we’ve actually been looking for partners,” he says.

Shone denies that the group’s decision is related to the firm’s preference to operate under an alliance rather than a full merger. He says: “I’ve worked with these people for over four years, and I’d be surprised if that was the case.”

However, Wroniak says: “I think it’s better to have a full merger than to work within a network under one brand.”

The exodus of partners from Warsaw arrives just two weeks after Camerons decided to jettison its Tashkent and Almaty offices to Denton Wilde Sapte (The Lawyer, 23 October).