The new Price Waterhouse legal office in Moscow is already in “very advanced” negotiations with three experienced partners currently working in Russia, according to Maryann Gashi-Butler, the partner setting up the practice.
And Gashi-Butler, an experienced Russian lawyer who previously worked as director of legal services for Clifford Chance in Moscow and recently as managing partner at White & Case's Moscow office, said the firm has just opened negotiations with a fourth partner.
The negotiations are in line with Price Waterhouse's intention to increase its Russian legal business in the next few months. Gashi-Butler said it hoped to employ up to 100 lawyers within a year, 90 per cent of whom would be Russian.
She said three of the partners were at other Western firms in Moscow while one was a senior partner at a Russian firm.
The new firm, which opened in June, has already attracted large Russian clients, according to Gashi-Butler. Several of the top-20 public companies in Russia, including those in transport, energy and banking, will use Price Waterhouse for their legal needs, she said.
She added that claims that there were not enough quality lawyers at partner level in Russia were a “big fallacy”.
“The big western firms find it difficult to find partners because they will only employ bi-lingual people,” she said. “Price Waterhouse is also looking to give jobs to partners who only speak Russian.”
Doran Doeh, a partner at Allen & Overy's office in Moscow, said he was surprised that Price Waterhouse would employ non-English speakers. “Partners who only speak Russian could only deal with domestic law, not international matters,” he said.
Gashi-Butler jointly set up Price Waterhouse's legal practice in Moscow with her husband Professor William Butler, who is regarded as one of the leading experts on Russian law.