'A serious player' - senior Moscow hires boost leading Russian independent's disputes offering

RGP to add three dispute lawyers from King & Spalding after US firm's decision to pull out of Moscow


A team of three corporate disputes lawyers led by former King & Spalding local managing partner Sergey Komolov is set to join leading Russian independent firm Rybalkin, Gortsunyan and Partners.

The move follows the King & Spalding’s announcement in March that it was to close its Moscow office this summer. Komolov, with counsel Ilya Zotkin, associate Stanislav Rzhaksenskiy and support staff, will join RGP in July.  

The destination of the office’s other partners Olga Kozyr and Alla Naglis, and the remaining associates, is unknown at this stage.

Komolov, a veteran lawyer of 25 years’ standing whose practice spans corporate, finance, and disputes – including national and international litigation and arbitration proceedings – is dual-qualified in the US and Russia. He has worked in-house at the World Bank and also served as a diplomat before qualifying as a lawyer.  

Komolov said his new firm would stay on “best friends” terms with the US firm and continue to co-counsel on ongoing matters, adding that it was exploring the possibility of taking over the lease on King & Spalding’s offices to allow for future expansion.

Komolov leaves King & Spalding after a decade with the firm, having joined from Hogan Lovells in 2011 to launch its Moscow office. The move will reunite him and Zotkin with former colleague Ilya Rybalkin, who now co-leads RGP’s disputes department and with whom both men worked at Hogan Lovells for four years.

RGP’s managing partner Suren Gortsunyan said the move marked a shift in his firm’s growth, “at a time when we have transformed from a smaller size boutique firm to become a serious player”, citing recent growth in the calibre of disputes handled, personnel and revenues, including its lateral recruitment.

The firm hired IP counsel Maria Samartseva from Hogan Lovells in May and promoted arbitration counsel Dmitry Kaysin to partner in January. Kaysin, along with six other lawyers including partners Dmitry Dyakin and Vladimir Pestrikov, joined from Russian rivals Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners in June 2020.

The firm also hired highly regarded arbitration partner Ken Beale from Boies Schiller Flexner in London in March, having previously hired two construction partners in London in January and a further pair of arbitration partners in Dubai in November 2020. 

A spokesman for King & Spalding said, following “shifts in the global energy market and other commercial considerations,” the firm would service clients from its existing offices, including Dubai, Houston, New York, Tokyo, London and Singapore. The latter two cities were named as the joint most popular jurisdictions for international arbitration in a survey carried out by White & Case and Queen Mary University, London.

Email your news and story ideas to: [email protected]