Russia’s largest domestic law firm Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners is planning to launch in London – but with barristers rather than solicitors.
Egorov managing partner Dimitry Afanasiev was in London last week to sound out possibilities among the city’s barristers.
“It’s not a traditional route, I realise,” Afanasiev said. “But we don’t intend to compete with any City lawyers. Because of the ethics rules in Russia, it makes more sense for us to associate with barristers and not solicitors.”
Afanasiev is a founding partner of the four-partner, 64-lawyer firm, which has offices in Moscow and St Petersburg and an outlet in Philadelphia in the US.
“We regularly work with a number of City firms and have just completed some litigation work with Ashurst,” Afanasiev said. “We’ve made a point of not having any special relationships with any firm because we want to be able to work with everybody.
“When we pitch to clients, we say, ‘Don’t engage a British firm with an office in Moscow, engage the best lawyers in each jurisdiction.’ We believe that we’re the best lawyers to advise in Russia.”
Afanasiev said Western law firms were becoming more trusted by Russian clients, with more Russian-trained staff and management than there had been previously.
“It used to be that Western firms’ offices were staffed by ex-pats, [but] now they have a lot more Russian lawyers. They’re even becoming comfortable with litigation.”