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Freshfields, BCLP, HSF, Latham and Squires join flood of firms to quit Moscow

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Russia exodus continues

Moscow, Russia

The exodus of international law firms from Russia continues at pace, with Freshfields, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP), Latham & Watkins, Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) and Squire Patton Boggs (SPB) the latest outfits to confirm they are closing their Moscow offices in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

In a statement Freshfields said “this is not a decision we have taken lightly”, but “in light of the Russian government’s actions in Ukraine, and the clear stance we have taken on Russia-related work, we believe that this is the right course of action”.

The firm, which last week announced it had cut ties with sanctioned Russian bank VTB, has operated in Moscow for 30 years. It currently has around 90 lawyers and support staff in the capital.

The firm’s statement continued: “The safety and wellbeing of our colleagues in Russia has remained one of our key priorities as we respond to this unprecedented crisis, and that continues to be the case. We will be taking steps to ensure an orderly transition, in line with our legal, regulatory and professional obligations.”

Meanwhile, BCLP confirmed it too will close down its Moscow operations “after very thorough, careful thought and consideration”.

The firm’s statement on the decision read: “We are committed to providing support to our colleagues in Moscow and assisting with transitions. The wellbeing of our people continues to be very concerning to us, and it is difficult to part ways under such circumstances. Having been a part of BCLP since 2009, we are grateful for their dedication, friendship and contribution to our firm over the years.”

It continued: “We will be stopping and transitioning client work in accordance with our legal and professional obligations, and will not accept mandates from state-owned entities in Russia or related individuals.”

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Latham & Watkins also confirmed it will “immediately begin an orderly transition” from Russia.

In a statement, chair and managing partner Rich Trobman said: “The unfolding humanitarian crisis is devastating to watch and we stand with so many in the world in condemning the violence in Ukraine and the needless human suffering taking place.”

He continued: “The firm will immediately begin an orderly transition, consistent with our ethical duties to our clients, to wind down operations in Moscow. During this process our focus will be principally on the safety and well-being of our colleagues in Russia.”

HSF said it had taken the decision to close its office in Russia following a reviews of its business in the county. “This is a complicated process, being undertaken under difficult circumstances”, the firm said in a statement.

It added that it is also bringing to an end any work associated with the Russian State, in-line with its legal and professional responsibilities

Elsewhere, Squire Patton Boggs said that “it has become clear that it is no longer tenable for us to continue our operations in Russia and we have therefore decided to wind down our Moscow office”.

It added that the “humanitarian and economic toll of this conflict continues to be severely distressing and we all continue to hope a peaceful resolution can be found”.

Other major firms to announce they’re closing down their operations in the country include Eversheds Sutherland, Gowling WLG, Kennedys, Linklaters and Norton Rose Fulbright.

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9 Comments

Barry

Shame on those firms remaining tightlipped

(18)(4)

Anon

Wonder if the other US firms will follow suit or if they’ll continue to further butcher their ethical reputation. Shameful.

(15)(3)

Slow down

Lots of/almost all firms are winding down operations in Russia but they have been staying tight lipped to take care of the staff in the offices to give them time to relocate and discuss with clients. It’s not as easy as deciding to close and then telling the world within the same hour.

(16)(8)

Anon

The US powerhouses don’t need you to defend them. Other international firms with Moscow offices such as Clifford Chance and Linklaters publicly condemned Russia’s actions while still looking out for their staff. Even the US firms who have said they’re reviewing Moscow presence haven’t actually stopped working with clients. It is what it is – shameful.

(15)(4)

Small HS Pract

The firm with an office on the Moon and Mars has been deathly silent

(1)(3)

Premium Tinned Feast

That reminded me, got a Fray Bentos in the freezer

(0)(3)

Unknown

It’s gotten to the point where morality trumps everything. It’s unconscionable to continue business with the Russian elites given they back the Kremlin in the atrocities committed in Ukraine.

(3)(2)

Disillusioned

They only care about the PR…

(5)(1)

Anonymous

Some of the firms exiting the Russian market had increasing profit last years here, and many of them did not deal with SDNs, but still decided to betray loyalty of associates working decades on the firms, and being not as well paid as English and American peers. But nobody speaks bad about such decision, because we understand the level of political pressure the law firms are unable to deal with — the US and UK companies are as helpless as Russians to have own opinion and stand by own interests. However, Russians are grateful that some firms did not publicly condemn the Ukrainian event, because it is currently a crime in Russia, and Russian partners and associates could be imprisoned for such kind of statements.

(0)(0)

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