The Firms

October 19, 2011 6:41 PM

Quinn Emanuel Taps Dechert Pair to Launch Russian Office

Posted by Sara Randazzo

Less than two months after announcing plans to open a new office in Washington, D.C., Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan is on the move again, this time to Moscow. 

The firm announced Wednesday that its tenth office is scheduled to open by the end of the year with two lateral hires from Dechert's Moscow office, Ivan Marisin and Vasily Kuznetsov. Marisin and Kuznetsov joined Dechert in May 2010 from Clifford Chance, where Marisin once served as managing partner of the Moscow office.

Quinn Emanuel managing partner John Quinn says the idea for a Moscow office grew out of the firm's involvement in litigation, often in London and U.S. venues, involving Russian nationals and wealthy Westerners doing business in Russia.

"Representing Russians and those with Russian interests is a big practice in London," Quinn says. "Having an office [in Moscow] will assist us in representing those clients and raising our profile in the business and legal community in Russia."

The new partners, who represent Russian and international clients in litigation and international arbitration, will work closely with the firm's three-year-old London office, Quinn says. He added that the firm hopes to have ten attorneys stationed in Moscow within six months.

According to a Quinn Emanuel press release announcing the new hires, Marisin and Kuznetsov have experience on several notable Russian cases, including serving as local counsel to Bank of New York Mellon in a $22.5 billion claim brought against it by the Federal Customs Service of the Russian Federation (the case was dropped in 2009 in exchange for $14 million in legal fees) and representing Russian uranium seller Tenex in a $1 billion international arbitration in Stockholm in 2007.

While other major firms with U.S. roots—including White & Case, Dewey & LeBoeuf, and Chadbourne & Parke—have made inroads in Moscow, Quinn says that to his knowledge, no other firm currently operating in the Russian capital specializes in litigation work to the degree that Quinn Emanuel does. "There are a lot of other American and British firms there, but more focused on deal work," he says. "We see a real opportunity there."

A Dechert spokeswoman said the firm had no comment on the departures, which reduce Dechert's attorney head count in Moscow to 24.

Founded in 1986, Quinn Emanuel held steadfastly to its home base in Los Angeles until 1997, when it opened a Silicon Valley office. In time, the firm branched out to San Francisco, New York, and, later, Chicago. It opened its first overseas office, in Tokyo, in 2007, followed by the London location in 2008 and an office in Mannheim, Germany, in 2010. Most recently, Quinn Emanuel opened its doors in D.C. after landing a trio of Alston & Bird partners who specialize in litigating intellectual property cases before the International Trade Commission.

In June 2006 Quinn told The American Lawyer, "Every office you open is a chance for something to go wrong. It's like putting a witness on the stand." Asked about the statement Wednesday, Quinn stood by it, though the attitude it reflects doesn't appear to have slowed the firm's ambitions to grow: "Things you don't anticipate could happen," he says. "You've got to make good decisions, and I think we made one here."

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