Allen & Overy's Moscow office has made a fifth of its 32 lawyers redundant – the first employees at UK firms to fall victim to the Russian crisis.
A&O's Moscow managing partner Chris Roberts said the six lawyers – one expat and five Russians – worked primarily in the capital markets department and had been asked to leave because of the “complete fall-off of new issues work”.
Three support staff have also been axed, the transfer of capital markets partner David Doble and an assistant from London to Moscow has been deferred and a further Moscow-based expat lawyer is likely to return to London in the near future.
All the major Russian practices with capital markets practices – Freshfields, Linklaters, Allen & Overy and Baker & McKenzie – will have been hit by the rouble crisis. Most are keeping a close eye on the situation, but have decided to bear their losses until next spring at least.
In the meantime, one US managing partner reported receiving four or five CVs a day from lawyers in the major UK practices over the past few weeks as uncertainty grows.
One London-based senior partner said: “We'll just have to grit our teeth and stick it out. We'll probably stay unless it gets to a point where there is physical danger. That is a possibility.
“It needs a political resolution before there is a financial solution and I can't see why there would be a political solution.”
The partner added: “Anyone who says they've got work in Moscow is lying. It's completely flat.”
However, Lovell White Durrant's office has just taken on a banking and a litigation lawyer, while A&O said its 12 banking lawyers were busy on debt and loan restructuring.