Global Law Firms in Russia Respond to Ukraine Invasion

People walk at the Moscow International Business Center, also known as the

At least 20 international law firms operated in Moscow before Russia invaded Ukraine in February, triggering waves of Western sanctions. Some companies said they were closing their offices in Moscow due to the invasion. Others said they were still considering their next steps, including the future of their work for Russian clients.

COMPANIES CLOSING OFFICES IN MOSCOW

Eversheds Sutherland, an international firm with more than 3,000 lawyers, announced on Wednesday that it was closing its offices in Moscow and St Petersburg due to the invasion. The company said it is not and will not represent the Russian government, Russian state-controlled entities or oligarchs.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer; Latham & Watkins; Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; and the Squire Patton Boggs also announced on Wednesday that they would close their offices in Moscow.

The Canadian-British company Gowling WLG said in a statement that it was leaving Russia and would stop working with “sanctioned or non-sanctioned” Russian clients.

Norton Rose Fulbright said this week that he would close his office of 15 lawyers in Moscow “as soon as possible, in accordance with our professional obligations”. The firm, whose website says it has more than 3,700 lawyers and jurists worldwide, said it was reviewing its relationships with clients linked to the Russian government.

London-based firm Linklaters said it was closing its Moscow office, where its website said it had more than 70 lawyers. The company said it would refuse to represent any entity under the influence or control of President Vladimir Putin’s regime.

COMPANIES SUSPENDING OR REVISING OPERATIONS

Dallas-based Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld said it was suspending operations at its Moscow office “pending further developments.”

DLA Piper, one of the most profitable US law firms, said it was “undertaking a strategic review of our presence in Russia.”

New York-based company Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton said it was temporarily closing operations in Moscow, “pending further developments”. It is also ending its representation of Russian government and public entities and complying with sanctions, the company said.

Debevoise & Plimpton, another New York firm, said it was “conducting a review of the status of our Moscow office.” The company said it would not take on new customers in Moscow and ended some customer relationships.

Baker Botts, a Texas-based law firm, said it was “actively considering” its future in Russia.

Baker McKenzie, a global firm with more than 4,000 lawyers, said it was “reviewing and adjusting our Russia-related operations and the work of our clients.”

CMS, a UK-based law firm operating in more than 40 countries, said its Moscow office was “under critical review”.

Philadelphia-based Dechert is “currently reviewing our presence in Moscow,” a firm spokesperson said.

Swedish law firm Mannheimer Swartling said it had suspended all Russian operations and was considering whether it could exit the market.

STAY OPEN FOR NOW

Herbert Smith Freehills, a British law firm, said its Moscow office remains open, but it will no longer represent certain Russian clients or take on certain work.

Hogan Lovells, a law firm with American and British roots, said it was able to “continue to operate our Moscow office”. The company said it continually assesses its operations and work in light of new laws and sanctions.

White & Case, a New York-based firm, said its Moscow office was open but no longer represented some Russian and Belarusian clients.

OTHER LAW FIRMS IN MOSCOW

Other international law firms issued statements after the invasion but did not comment publicly on their plans in Moscow, including Allen & Overy; Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner; and Winston & Strawn.

Dentons, a global law firm with more than 12,000 lawyers in 80 countries, said commenting on its plans “could compromise the interests of our employees and clients who live and work in the region”.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, a US law firm with an office in Moscow, did not respond to requests for comment.

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