Musat picks up Garrigues’ Romania team as Spanish giant makes Poland CEE HQ

Garrigues’ Bucharest team is set to join Romanian firm Musat & Asociatii after the Spanish firm announced it would be cutting the office loose at the end of the year.

A team of at least four lawyers, including ­Garrigues Bucharest office managing partner Mihai Mares, will join Musat on 1 January, according to the local firm’s co-managing partner Mona Musat.

Garrigues announced on 26 November that it would shut its Bucharest office by the end of the year and make Poland the centre of its Central and Eastern Europe practice. The Bucharest office averaged nine lawyers during 2010.

“This is the first time an international has left since Linklaters in 2008,” said one Bucharest lawyer. “The view is formulating that other internationals are thinking of leaving as well.

“The Romanian team [at Garrigues] has moved over to Musat to keep its clients. It seems that some international firms, like White & Case and CMS Cameron McKenna, have seen either significant management changes or taken a hard look, on a global level, at where they should be. ­Others, like Wolf Theiss, have reduced numbers. Internationals are having a hard time.”

Tuca Zbârcea & Asociatii deputy managing partner Stefan Damian added: “This doesn’t come as a surprise. Garrigues launched in Romania at a bad time. Spanish clients in Romania are concentrated in the real estate sector and that’s almost frozen.”

Garrigues entered Bucharest in July 2008 via a merger with Romanian firm Mares & Asociatii.