In another sign of the growing importance of overseas business to Philadelphia law firms, Dechert L.L.P. said Wednesday that it is adding a large team of lawyers in London, Dubai and the Republic of Georgia to bolster the firm's capital-markets and energy-related practices in the Middle East and Central Asia, among other places.

In all, about 25 lawyers are expected to join the firm over the next several weeks, said Dechert CEO Daniel O'Donnell. The leading edge of the group is made up of four partners in London and Dubai, and one in Tbilisi, Georgia.

"The goal is simply to significantly increase the amount of cross-border transactional and dispute-resolution opportunities for the firm," O'Donnell said. "This step is very much focused on emerging markets."

The announcement follows the opening two weeks ago of a Dechert office in Kazakhstan, where the firm expects that a burgeoning energy-development industry will feed its project-finance and transactional practices. Eleven lawyers joined the firm there.

At least a half-dozen Philadelphia law firms have a substantial presence overseas, and the trend has been to expand as clients themselves establish operations in nondomestic markets. Dechert, an 850-lawyer firm based in University City, has for years focused on project financing, mergers and acquisitions, and other deals, both in the United States and abroad.

Bringing on new partners and associates in London, where the firm has had an office for decades, was key because of its central role in capital markets and the lawyers' long-standing business and client relationships, O'Donnell said. The lawyers there will focus on borrowing by foreign governments and other forms of global debt offerings.

The office in Dubai, an important Persian Gulf commercial and financial center, is new and gives the firm a toehold in a market dominated by insiders and hard to penetrate. The two partners joining there will focus on mergers and acquisitions, energy and infrastructure deals, Islamic finance, and other matters, the firm said.

"This is an extremely strong and cohesive emerging-markets team," O'Donnell said.

The group joining Dechert is from Dewey & LeBoeuf, an international firm that in recent months has been plagued by faltering finances, pay cuts, and a series of high-profile partner defections. On Tuesday, Center City law firm Cozen O'Connor announced that it had hired Michael D. Klein, a high-profile energy and regulatory lawyer, away from Dewey LeBoeuf, along with two associates.

Contact Chris Mondics at 215 854 5957 or cmondics@phillynews.com