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Coudert Brothers is losing all the partners in its London and Moscow offices to Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. In an unusual move, Coudert issued a press release Thursday announcing that the partners — nine in London and four in Moscow — would be leaving within the next month, although it did not specify their destination. Orrick subsequently issued its own release. London and Moscow are “both strategically important offices, and we intend to rebuild them,” said Edward Tillinghast, who has been named interim head of Coudert’s London office. “It’s important for clients to know we are committed to these regions.” Coudert has about 30 associates in its London office and 15 in Moscow. Tillinghast said the firm would be transferring a few lawyers from other cities to these outposts. Coudert has lost a steady stream of lawyers in the past few years; it has closed eight offices since 2000. Last year Coudert merged its Palo Alto, Calif., and San Jose, Calif., offices into its San Francisco outpost. At least five partners have left the outpost since then. Other offices have also lost partners. Tillinghast said some defections in the last year resulted from the firm’s decision to focus on specific regions. Commenting on the partners in London and Moscow, he said, “You never want to see lawyers leave, but it’s a competitive marketplace.” Orrick can offer higher partner income. The firm’s profits per partner topped $1 million in 2004, up 15 percent from the previous year. Coudert’s profits per partner were $420,000 in 2003, according to The American Lawyer’s annual survey of law firm finances. Coudert’s 2004 figures have not yet been published. The Coudert hires are a coup for Orrick, bolstering its presence in London and giving it a foothold in Russia. “This is a big step forward in establishing critical mass in London,” said Orrick Chairman Ralph Baxter Jr., adding that the hires will also help the firm expand its offices in Paris, Milan and Rome. Orrick’s London outpost, opened in 1998, focuses on finance and handles some corporate work. The Coudert lawyers will add litigation, real estate and employment law expertise. Baxter said Russia is strategically important since it is a major focus of foreign investment. He said the three Coudert partners are among the leading lawyers in Russia. One of them, Olga Anisimova, was a judge in a district court in Leningrad from 1982 to 1990.

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