16 November 2009
The Lawyer reports on the launch of the CIS Leading Counsel Network


Nine-strong CIS legal network gets off ground

By James Swift

A nine-member CIS­network that launched at the beginning of November is planning to bring the alliance model into the 21st century, according to its chair.

The Leading Counsel Network (LCN) is a non-exclusive alliance of firms from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Turkmenistan and Ukraine.

The network’s first meeting was held in Russia at the offices of EPAM.

RULG-Ukrainian Legal Group founder Irina Paliashvili was elected LCN’s first chair in a one-year rotating presidency aimed at promoting democracy and ensuring that not only firms from the largest economies hold sway.

Oleg de Lousanoff from German firm Hengeler Mueller and Patrick Dzie­wolski from French firm Bredin Prat attended LCN’s first meeting, sharing their experiences of operating a best-friends network.

“We were curious as to how [other best-friends networks] were so successful and how we can distinguish ourselves and progress, for example in IT, which plays such a big role today,” said Paliashvili. “Having a unified approach for IT is very important. If you want to be a 21st century network it’s important to have the best IT resources and I think we can do that much better together than we can with each firm on its own.

“We learnt from the best friends network that it’s [about] providing the best cross-border service for clients. Some networks just send referrals and meet once or twice a year, but not much is done on cross-­border terms. We’ll be ­working together on the substance; sending teams, doing secondments and making sure lawyers work together,” she added.