Eversheds and Gowling become latest to cut Russia ties as Cleary ‘temporarily’ closes Moscow outpost

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By Thomas Connelly on


Invasion response continues

Moscow, Russia

Eversheds Sutherland, Gowling WLG and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton are the latest international law firms to take action in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Eversheds confirmed in a statement this afternoon it will no longer have a presence in Russia, in a move it stressed was “not a reflection on our valued colleagues in those offices”.

The firm — which has bases in Moscow and St Petersburg — said the priority now is to support its 50 lawyers and support staff in the country, and “work together to ensure an orderly transition of the business in compliance with our professional obligations”.

It added “that we are not acting for the Russian government, Russian state-controlled entities and oligarchs, nor are we accepting any such mandates”.

Cleary, meanwhile, stopped short of a full exit, confirming yesterday it will “temporarily” close its Moscow office “pending further developments”.

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“We have all watched the events unfolding in Ukraine with shock and dismay, and our thoughts and support are with everyone who has been affected by this tragedy,” a spokesperson for the firm said. “We have been exiting our engagements as counsel to Russian governmental and state-owned entities, in a manner consistent with our legal obligations to clients.”

The spokesperson went on to confirm it is actively supporting efforts to address the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, with lawyers providing pro bono legal support to Ukrainian refugees, “in particular relating to immigration and asylum status”. It has also made a donation to relief efforts and will match employee contributions.

Elsewhere, Gowling WLG confirmed this afternoon it is to leave Russia. “We are shocked and deeply concerned about the growing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine”, the firm said in a statement. “Gowling WLG stands united with the Ukrainian people.”

It continued: “Our departure will be orderly as we seek to transition the business to our team in Moscow. This decision is grounded in our values and our deep sense of what is right. We will no longer accept new instructions from Russian clients, sanctioned or not, and we will end relationships with Russian clients in a manner that complies with our professional obligations.”

“We are working closely with our charitable partners — including the Red Cross and the UN Refugee Agency — to help deliver humanitarian aid to those who need it most in Ukraine and the surrounding region”, the statement added.

A host of firms have now taken action in response to the crisis, with the likes of Linklaters, Norton Rose Fulbright and Kennedys all confirming plans to shutter their Moscow offices. Other City firms are in the process of reviewing their Russian work while others have stopped acting for clients with links to the state.

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