01 Mar 2022

Osborne Clarke hires 30 lawyers from Polish firms for Warsaw launch

Move will help Polish clients navigate the changing business landscape amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, Osborne Clarke CEO said

Top 30 UK firm Osborne Clarke has hired 30 lawyers from local practices to launch an office in Warsaw, its first physical base in Central and Eastern European (CEE) as tensions continue to rise in the region amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. 

The new office will be led by co-managing partners Olgierd Świerzewski and Tomasz Olkiewicz, while the wider team will comprise a total of six partners, including four from Polish accountancy firm MDDP, as well as 24 lawyers and four business support staff, according to a statement. Most of the new team join from MDDP, while the rest arrive from a crop of local law firms. 

Świerzewski and incoming partner Katarzyna Baranska are the only two partners not joining from MDDP. The duo both worked for local giant Kochanski Partners until late last year, according to their Linkedin profiles. 

Upon joining the firm, Świerzewski will serve as the office's head of IT and data, while Baranska will lead the office's decarbonisation group. The firm's website also lists new arrival and former MDDP partner Agata Demuth as head of real estate in Poland. 

Osborne Clarke’s new Warsaw team will serve international and national clients across the firm’s key sectors, including technology, media and communications, energy and utilities and real estate and infrastructure, with plans to expand into new areas as the team grows, the firm said. 

Osborne Clarke's Warsaw office will also maintain its mutual referral relationship with MDDP following the launch.

Omar Al-Nuaimi, international CEO at Osborne Clarke, identified the move as a strategic one for the firm given Poland’s status as the fifth largest EU economy and its strong positioning within the CEE’s international business market. He also pointed to the mounting pressure facing the Polish legal market in connection to “the rapidly evolving situation in Ukraine” and “broader geopolitical factors”. 

“Many of our clients have welcomed the fact that we will have a team in Poland to assist them as they navigate the changing business landscape,” he said. 

Olkiewicz joins Osborne Clarke after nearly 18 years at MDDP, where he most recently worked as a corporate partner. An M&A and tax specialist by trade, Olkiewicz specialises in handling matters across all of Osborne Clarke’s key industry sectors, as well as the life sciences industry. Prior to joining MDDP in 2004, he also spent nine years as a senior tax manager at Ernst & Young. 

“Our teams couldn’t be more aligned,” Olkiewicz said, adding that MDDP and Osborne Clarke’s expertise connect across many of its key sectors. 

“In the energy and utilities sector, for example, decarbonisation and ESG form a big part of our strategic thinking and we're advising clients on matters linked to the circular economy and waste reduction,” he said. 

Świerzewski, meanwhile, specialises in IT and data matters. He most recently worked as the CEO of Kochanski Partners, where he also served as a technology transactions partner between 2020 and 2021, according to his Linkedin profile. He departed Kochanski Partners in July last year to take up a post as vice president of the management board at one of Poland’s largest oil companies, Lotos Paliwa. 

Świerzewski has also spent a considerable amount of time in-house, having served as the general counsel of Accor Hotels for nearly nine years and as associate general counsel for Dell’s Polish business between 2008 and 2011. 

Following the move, Osborne Clarke’s total lawyer headcount will surpass 1,300 across its 26 international offices. The firm’s 15 other European bases are located in Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Italy and the Netherlands. 

A number of other firms have made moves in Poland as of late, including top 20 UK firm Taylor Wessing, which added a 10-lawyer banking and finance team to its ranks in Warsaw from Deloitte Legal in December. 

Greenberg Traurig made a series of lateral moves last year after 10 of its Warsaw lawyers, including one shareholder, quit the firm for CMS in November. It went on to hire seven real estate lawyers from Dentons, Kochanski & Partners and Domanski Zakrzewski Palinka just a few weeks later. 

Many local and international law firms with offices in the region came out in support of the Ukrainian legal community last week, including Kyiv-based law firm Arzinger Law Office, which condemned the invasion in a statement issued by managing partner Timur Bondaryev. Other firms including Baker McKenzie, Dentons, CMS and Taylor Wessing closed their offices in Kyiv in order to prioritise staff safety. 

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