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A&O and Clifford Chance complete magic circle departures from Moscow

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Host of top international firms have shuttered offices in response to invasion

Moscow, Russia

Magic circle duo Allen & Overy (A&O) and Clifford Chance have confirmed they will “wind down” their Moscow offices in light of Russia’s devastating invasion of Ukraine.

A&O, which previously announced it was reviewing its “Russia-related portfolio”, said the move will be managed in line with all legal, regulatory and professional obligations.

A statement from the firm read: “This was not an easy decision to make as we have 55 people there and we needed to make sure that we could take this action with their best welfare in mind. We are very grateful for their hard work over many years.”

It added:

“We are doing everything we can to support and where possible will redeploy them to work elsewhere, in particular with other A&O offices as we continue to help those clients we can and choose to work with through this difficult transition period.”

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Clifford Chance, meanwhile, said it had begun “an orderly wind down” of its operations in Moscow. This follows its announcement last week that it would “not accept new mandates from any Russian state entity, Russian state-owned enterprises or individuals identified as having close connections to President Putin”.

The decisions mean no members of the magic circle will have an office in Russia, after Freshfields and Linklaters made similar announcements earlier this week. Slaughter and May does not have an outpost in the country.

Other firms to close their offices in Russia in response to the invasion include Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Eversheds Sutherland, Gowling WLG, Kennedys, Herbert Smith Freehills, Norton Rose Fulbright and Squire Patton Boggs.

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17 Comments

JP

The Lawyer breaking news emails spamming the inbox every time a firm closes its Russian office and the LC articles are not necessary at all.

(9)(4)

Anon

I’m actually really interested in these updates because it’s really shown the true colours of the US firms.

(13)(11)

Plop

Ah yes, to show our condemnation of Putin’s actions lets punish the civilian Russian workers who play no part in the political regime and decision making behind Ukraine by putting them out of work and imposing economic sanctions on the country which has no effect on the rich leaders but again the normal everyday Russian men and women…

(21)(18)

Anon

Both of these firms are helping staff transfer offices either to non Russian offices or independent firms there – it’s becoming apparent the staff don’t want to be there either. A lot of the Russian population with access to information that isn’t just propaganda simply don’t want to be in Russia anymore.

(13)(8)

Anonymous

About time A&O shut its London office. Such a beta firm

(20)(22)

Anonymous

Looks like someone got rejected for their vac scheme

(36)(4)

Curious

Why?

(1)(2)

Anonymous

Sounds like you really wanted but did not get that TC. Shame.

(15)(2)

Anonymous

Clifford Chance calling a spade a spade in its press releases. Freshfields, meanwhile, referring only to the “crisis in Ukraine”…

(9)(5)

Chimp

Clifford Chance loves to show how wOkE they are at any opportunity.

Don’t be fooled, it’s simply marketing for them

(16)(6)

CC Insider

Might be just marketing for the lawyers but I can assure you the business professional teams actually working on the responses etc. here DO care. I certainly do. I appreciate why people would be cynical, some of the stuff is a bit OTT, but that’s because the people in charge of D&I are genuinely passionate people with strong morals and values.

(7)(1)

Anon

What exactly is wrong with being woke, please enlighten me? Because it literally means taking facts and figures into account when looking out for social injustice, to try and shape a better world and be more inclusive. Why people have an issue with firms being ‘woke’ is beyond me. You’re telling on yourself…

(6)(2)

FFS

Because being ‘woke’ is 99% of the time a whitewashing exercise for lawyers and others to launder their poor professional reputations.

Instead of actually listening to the marginalised, woke people do what makes THEMSELVES look great first. If they sincerely saw those they wanted to ‘help’ as real equals, inequalities would never exist in the first place.

Failures to hire minorities? ‘Look, we rich people are going to give scholarships, whether those minorities asked for them or not! Lessons will be learnt. Aren’t we just great?’

Failures to stop sexual harassment? ‘Look! We rich people once hired a woman! Lessons will be learned. Aren’t we just great?’

When has wokery, screaming in a protest or Twitter rants actually changed the world or solved inequalities???? It hasn’t.

The REAL way to solve inequality is to confront racism and put minorities in power within the senior courts and governments under which they live.

But of course, that’s going to ruffle the feathers of a number of people….

(7)(2)

Anonym

“The REAL way to solve inequality is to confront racism and put minorities in power within the senior courts and governments under which they live.”

How can Clifford Chance do that, exactly?

Anon

One day don’t be surprised if Chinese and Indian companies close in the UK because of our foreign policy. Or maybe even for things the UK did in the past

(7)(5)

Russian at US firm in Moscow

This will probably be an unpopular comment, but I still feel the need to get it out.

US and UK firms collectively employed hundreds (if not thousands) of partners, associates, and admin staff workers in Moscow. Most of us never supported Putin and condemn the war. Many of us worked for years (or even decades) at these firms and brought millions in fees to the US/UK partners.

Some firms now relocate select lawyers to other offices. Many do not offer any relocation at all. Almost no one (with a notable exception of Linklaters, according to rumors) offers relocation to admin staff.

It would really help if websites like LegalCheek, AbovetheLaw etc. put pressure on the leaving firms to do right by their employees. Without the help from the firms, we cannot get outside of Russia – our credit cards are blocked (which means that we cannot book a flight or pay for an Airbnb), we cannot transfer funds to foreign accounts (even if we had ones), and we are being detained at the border and asked to show the contents of our phones to siloviki. And even if we get out, there is only a handful of jurisdictions where we can reside for more than 90 days without a work visa.

US and UK firms like to brag about their diversity and inclusion programs. Now’s the time to show if they mean it.

P.S. It goes without saying that what happens in Ukraine is a war crime, a tragedy, and a personal shock to me and everyone I know. We are not comparing ourselves to those, whose houses were bombed, and those who lost their friends and loved ones under Russian fire. Our thoughts are with the Ukrainians, and we may only hope that these crimes do not remain unpunished.

But we are people, too, and we are also hostages of the situation. Not all Russians are nazis.

For those who do not know: a Facebook post condemning the war may get you up to 15 years in prison. A donation to Ukraine may get you up to 20 years in prison. All independent media are blocked. Facebook is blocked. Instagram is blocked. Any demonstration (even a one-man protest) will get you detained. 15,000 Russians have been detained since the war started. When you are detained, you may be tortured, you may be imprisoned. All opposition leaders have either been killed, imprisoned, or exiled, so there is no one to even lead the protest. If you do not support what is happening, you can accept your fate as a citizen of new North Korea, become a martyr or run away. There is no other option really.

(6)(0)

Philip

Thank you, this is a brave and genuinely useful reply.

(1)(0)

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