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Legal market overview
Pending reform of Russia’s civil code and its potential impact on the dominance of English law as the basis for major transactions is a hot topic for firms operating in the market – particularly Russian ones.
In the meantime, domestic firms are successfully challenging their overseas rivals except on the very biggest transactions where firms such as Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, Baker Botts L.L.P. and the Magic Circle continue to dominate. Many Russian firms – both small and large – have associations with English and US counterparts, through which they can source English law expertise. Indeed, some Russian firms have raided international rivals to recruit English lawyers.
In a stable but quiet year, there were very few equity capital markets deals completed, including just three IPOs. On the debt side, however, firms such as Allen & Overy Legal Services acted on a high volume of Eurobond offerings and notes programmes.
High-end M&A and financing focused on deals in the energy and natural resources sectors, as well as in telecoms. 2012 also saw a series of major upstream joint ventures between oil and gas giants to explore new territories. Herbert Smith Freehills CIS LLP, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP were among the firms acting on such multibillion-dollar operations – the latter for ExxonMobil on its agreement with Rosneft to explore the Russian Arctic.
In major developments, Morgan Lewis took over Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP’s highly regarded Moscow office in May 2012 with the loss of only a few partners, and litigation heavyweight Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP entered Russia after recruiting a team from Dechert Russia LLC. Mannheimer Swartling closed its St Petersburg office. Since publication, the team has moved to the newly opened office of Attorneys at law Borenius Russia Ltd.