Kinstellar launches in Kazakhstan with Dentons team

Central and Eastern European (CEE) firm Kinstellar has launched its seventh office, taking a team from Dentons to open in Kazakhstan.

Dentons partner Joel Benjamin, who was legacy SNR Denton and formerly in charge of the firm’s banking and finance practice in Central Asia, has joined Kinstellar along with Dentons senior associate Adlet Yerkinbayev, who is also becoming a partner.

The duo are bringing with them a team of eight other lawyers, the bulk of whom are also legacy SNR Denton.

Kazakhstan was one of the few locations where both SNR Denton and its European merger partner Salans (22 February 2013) had offices. The merged Dentons still has a large presence in Almaty, a jurisdiction with few major international firms. Those which are present include Baker & McKenzie, Curtis Mallet-Prevost Colt & Mosle and Dechert.

The Kazakhstan office is the seventh international location for Kinstellar, which launched in 2008 when Linklaters’ CEE practice spun off (6 October 2008). Kinstellar later launched in Serbia (6 March 2009) and Turkey (14 June 2010).

Managing partner Jason Mogg said the Almaty office fitted into the firm’s long-term strategy.

“We’ve had our eye on Kazakhstan for a while,” he said. “We’re trying to service smaller emerging markets in a way that major international law firms serve major markets. It’s not a market where there’s lots of competition. That’s our sweet spot and that’s the kind of market we’re targeting.”

Mogg added that Benjamin and Yerkinbayev’s specialism in M&A, banking and finance and capital markets fitted well into Kinstellar’s profile. He said the duo had been highly recommended by Kinstellar’s referral partners.

He said the firm was keeping its eye on other possible locations to launch in in the future.

The CEE and Central Asian regions have not been targeted by many international law firms, with legacy Salans and SNR Denton among the exceptions. Before the Dentons merger went live. Salans’ managing partner Dariusz Oleszczuk said the region would remain key for the combined firm (18 March 2013). Oleszczuk also added that Salans had seen 25 per cent growth in its Kazakhstan office last year.