The Warsaw office of McKenna & Co has poached five lawyers, including one partner, from neighbouring firm Nabarro Nathanson, in a move reflecting the current scramble for the best foreign lawyers in Poland.

The departure of partner Stephen Shone and his team of four leaves Nabarros without any real estate specialists and reduces its number of partners to two.

The defection comes after McKenna's recent move to larger offices and an announcement that it intends to expand its Warsaw team from 15 to 20 lawyers by the end of 1996.

The move increases McKennas' real estate team to eight lawyers and it is now arguably the largest practice in the field in Poland.

Shone said he decided to join McKennas because of its prominent presence in Eastern Europe. It currently has offices in Budapest, Prague, Warsaw, Moscow and Almaty, plus one in Tashkent in Central Asia.

He said: “There has been a massive explosion in real estate work in Poland in recent years. I believe my team can provide a better service from McKennas because of the firm's regional prominence.”

Robert Windmill, a partner at McKennas, said: “There is a shortage of good commercial lawyers in Poland at the moment, so we can expect a lot of scrambling for the best talent.” He said the firm would continue to expand.

Stephen Denyer, from Allen & Overy's Warsaw office, said the move clearly strengthened McKennas' position. He said: “The Warsaw market is now reaching another stage in its development. Some firms are expanding, others are cutting down. I expect more movement in the next few months.”

In the past six months Theodore Goddard has sold half its Warsaw office to Dewey Ballantine and Baker & McKenzie has taken over US firm Dickinson Wright Moon Van Dusen & Freeman's Warsaw practice.

Michael Davies, founding partner of Nabarros' Warsaw office, said the firm was looking to recruit Polish lawyers and concentrate on expanding its energy and banking practice.

EC intervenes in row over foreign lawyers, see page 5.