Akin rainmakers quit to launch Russia independent in further apocalyptic sign for Western firms

Akin rainmakers quit to launch Russia independent in further apocalyptic sign for Western firms

Lawyers have been speaking for months of a tough environment for international firms in sanction-battered Russia, but no event has been as emblematic as the news in September that two of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld’s top Moscow partners have quit to launch an independent firm.

Heavyweight litigator Ilya Rybalkin and corporate veteran Suren Gortsunyan launched Rybalkin, Gortsunyan & Partners (RGP), bringing across 11 other fee-earners from their former shop – now left with just 18 lawyers in Moscow.
While the US sanction regime bars US firms from supporting Kremlin-linked oligarchs, speaking to Legal Business Gortsunyan said Russian companies were becoming increasingly less comfortable with instructing Western advisers. Continue reading “Akin rainmakers quit to launch Russia independent in further apocalyptic sign for Western firms”

Ominous signs for western firms in Russia as Akin Gump team quits to launch local independent

Ominous signs for western firms in Russia as Akin Gump team quits to launch local independent

The latest sign that life in Russia is getting tough for international firms came today (5 September) as two of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld’s key Moscow partners quit to launch an independent firm.

Heavyweight litigator Ilya Rybalkin and corporate veteran Suren Gortsunyan have launched Rybalkin, Gortsunyan & Partners (RGP) alongside 11 associates, counsel and paralegals from the US firm – a team which claims to have been involved in transactions cumulatively worth over $80bn. Continue reading “Ominous signs for western firms in Russia as Akin Gump team quits to launch local independent”

Rousing the bear – Russian counsel force to hunt in new places

Rousing the bear – Russian counsel force to hunt in new places

Russia’s propensity for volatility is infamous. Since its revolution 100 years ago, it has lived through events that the Soviet Union’s founders would never have imagined. Today, amid heightened geopolitical tensions, it continues to face huge uncertainty. But its law firms are adamant that it will continue to provide solid revenues.

‘Reports of Russia’s decline are much exaggerated and most of the issues with the West are not business-driven,’ argues Dimitry Afanasiev, chair and co-founder of Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners (EPAP). ‘When oil prices head north of $60 and the cycle in hard assets turns, we will remain strategically-placed to capitalise on the opportunities.’ Continue reading “Rousing the bear – Russian counsel force to hunt in new places”

The Russia report: A new thaw?

The Russia report: A new thaw?

If the mood of a city can be gauged by the bustle of its shops and restaurants, then law firms active in Russia and much of the wider CIS region should not be especially fearful. Björn Paulsen, co-head of German firm Noerr’s Moscow office, says despite the recent devaluation of the rouble coming amid prolonged economic turbulence, few tables are empty in the Russian capital’s top eateries. ‘The crisis has already reached the bottom and now the market is on the rise again,’ he says.

While there have been numerous false dawns born of blind optimism over a Russian recovery in recent years, the consensus now is that economic and political woes have bottomed out, and lawyers, while talking as good a game as ever, have reason to be upbeat. Money is trickling into the region as foreign investors, particularly those from Asia, try to take advantage of cheaper assets. Government initiatives to create a more investor-friendly environment are welcomed by the region’s elite legal advisers. Continue reading “The Russia report: A new thaw?”

Aboard the propaganda train – sweat and spin amid a turbulent Russian market

Aboard the propaganda train – sweat and spin amid a turbulent Russian market

There’s an old Russian joke about a foreigner who visits the Soviet Union. Knowing his letters will be read by the state censor, he devises a system to communicate with friends back home. If his letter is written in black ink, the message is true. If it is written in red ink, the message is false. Eventually his friends receive a letter from Russia written in black ink: ‘Dear friends, I hope this letter reaches you. Contrary to the lies in our press, life in the Soviet Union is wonderful. Food is plentiful, apartments are spacious and well heated, and there are no shortages. In fact, the only thing I can’t find here is red ink.’

Asking international lawyers about the year they have just had in the Russian market is a similar exercise in reading between the lines. While many firms report that they are still making money, fuelled largely by a boom in restructuring work, this picture is undoubtedly airbrushed by lawyers’ unwillingness to discuss the negatives. No-one, however, is in any doubt that the precipitous decline of the Russian market is hitting revenues. Continue reading “Aboard the propaganda train – sweat and spin amid a turbulent Russian market”

Russian market beckons for Kennedys as others continue to ‘adjust’

Russian market beckons for Kennedys as others continue to ‘adjust’

After several top 25 global firms cut backs their Moscow offerings last year, there have been signs of renewed interest in Moscow as Kennedys set up a Russian base last month through an exclusive arrangement with local firm and former Clyde & Co best friend CIS Advocates, while Chadbourne & Parke invested in a new managing partner.

Kennedys’ launch comes with the hire of former Clyde & Co Russian insurance practice head Constantin Saranchouk, along with an associate, and follows troubled markets in Russia across 2014 that saw a raft of firms scale back in the region due to international sanctions.

Continue reading “Russian market beckons for Kennedys as others continue to ‘adjust’”

A&O and Linklaters scale back in Russia as foreign firms feel the brunt of sanctions

A&O and Linklaters scale back in Russia as foreign firms feel the brunt of sanctions

Law firms scramble to reposition Moscow practice as EU sanctions hit home Russia’s volatile political environment began to have an impact on international and domestic law firms in Moscow at the beginning of this year, but as 2015 nears, and with multiple rounds of international sanctions imposed on the country, the situation has dramatically deteriorated.

US and EU sanctions on Russia have taken their toll on many located in Moscow, including Allen & Overy (A&O), which offered redundancy packages at associate level in October; Linklaters, which seconded 19 associates into other regions; White & Case, which reduced its Moscow-based headcount across both partner and associate levels; and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, whose office associate headcount dropped.

Continue reading “A&O and Linklaters scale back in Russia as foreign firms feel the brunt of sanctions”