A&O, Linklaters cut back in CIS

Allen & Overy and Linklaters are making redundancies in their Moscow offices, The Lawyer can reveal.

Allen & Overy has made three local lawyers and three support staff redundant in a move which should save the firm an estimated £150,000.

Linklaters has also laid off three Moscow-based Russian lawyers.

A Linklaters spokeswoman confirms: “We have made three lawyers redundant in response to continuing difficult economic conditions in Russia.”

Two of the axed Allen & Overy lawyers are banking and finance lawyers. The third, a senior capital markets lawyer, is believed to be heading for Lovell White Durrant.

Law firms have been badly affected by the economic downturn, with the capital markets hardest hit. US firm Mayer Brown & Platt was forced to shut down its Moscow operation at the end of September.

Due to the Russian economic crisis Allen & Overy's Moscow practice was forced last year to refocus towards corporate restructuring – a move which resulted in the sacking of five Russian lawyers and which went down badly within the market.

Although several lawyers had been briefed on possible further cuts in May, it is understood that the three lawyers, secretary, receptionist and cook were not told they would lose their jobs until 24 September, when they were handed a cash settlement in US dollars and told to leave.

Calvin Walker, who is set to take over as Allen & Overy's Moscow managing partner when Chris Roberts returns to London this week, says: “It's really just a trimming. No further cuts are planned.

“It was part of a similar review situation to that carried out last year, and part of a result of the downturn in work in the pre-election period.”

“No one wants to lose their job, but everyone's realistic about the problems here.

“The people concerned have been tremendously philosophical about it.”

The Allen & Overy Moscow office is left with three partners and 16 associates.

Bruce Bean, partner at Clifford Chance in Moscow, says he is surprised by the redundancies.

Last week, Clifford Chance poached senior corporate lawyer Andre Donstov from Freshfields Deringer.

Bean says that in contrast to others, Clifford Chance is trying to make the office more Russian, adding: “We are moving in the other direction.”