Linklaters to be first into St Petersburg

LINKLATERS will become the first UK firm to launch an office in St Petersburg when it opens for business there in June.

The new office will be headed by Dominic Sanders, a consultant who set up the firm's Moscow office “as a one man and a dog operation” in 1992. The Moscow operation now has 35 fee earners.

Sanders said that this was an “exciting venture” and that the new office would help the firm “branch out and strengthen practice areas such as projects, inward investment and commercial property”.

He added that Moscow remained the banking and financial centre for Russia.

Linklaters joins US firms including Coudert Brothers, McDermott Will & Emery and Baker & Mckenzie which have already opened up in the city. UK firm Clyde & Co has an associated office there.

Senior Russian lawyer Olga Lakhno will transfer from the Moscow office to support the new venture and the firm is planning to recruit local lawyers to provide Russian law advice.

Nick Rees, Linklaters' managing partner for the Moscow office, said that there was great competition in attracting the best local lawyers and that opening an office in St Petersburg “opens up a pool of legal talent that we have not tapped into before”.

In 1997 Linklaters advised the lead manager bank on a US$300m bond issue by the local St Petersburg authorities.