Russia exodus continues
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.”
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”.
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