Taking a stand: Six further international law firms to suspend or exit Moscow

Six further international law firms have confirmed that they are exiting or suspending their Moscow operations following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Eversheds Sutherland said in a statement today (9 March): “Further to the firm’s statement of March 4, 2022, Eversheds Sutherland has decided that it will no longer have a presence in Russia.

“This decision has not been made lightly, and is not a reflection on our valued colleagues in those offices, but we will not continue to operate in Russia given its government’s invasion of Ukraine. Our priority now is to support our 50 colleagues in Russia and to work together to ensure an orderly transition of the business in compliance with our professional obligations.”

It added: “As previously stated, our work has been centered on advising multinational clients on their affairs relating to or in Russia. We can confirm that we are not acting for the Russian government, Russian state-controlled entities and oligarchs, nor are we accepting any such mandates.”

Also confirming its exit from Kyiv, Morgan Lewis, said: “Over the last two weeks, we have focused intently on our colleagues in Moscow, assisting them in addressing the disruption in their lives, potential threats to their safety, and in implementing their personal plans, including relocating to other jurisdictions where they have made that choice. 

“Having taken these steps, we are confirming our wind-down of all operations in Moscow. Many of our lawyers who have previously practiced in Moscow will continue practicing with us in other jurisdictions and will continue to assist our global clients.

“We have also made clear that we have been from the outset and will remain in full compliance with the various government sanctions implemented across the free world, and have terminated or declined client engagements inconsistent with the letter or spirit of those sanctions.

“We join with others in condemning the Russian government’s aggression and violence that has caused unspeakable suffering to innocent people.”

And while not going as far as the others, Akin Gump said it is suspending its operations in Moscow, commenting: “As a firm built by Robert Strauss, the last U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union and the first U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation, Akin Gump is deeply saddened and shocked by the events in Ukraine and the tragic and senseless loss of life of so many innocent Ukrainians. In light of the ongoing crisis, we are suspending operations in Moscow pending further developments. We will do so in an orderly way, as the safety and well-being of our long-time colleagues and ethical obligations to clients in Moscow remain a high priority.  We will continue our efforts to provide humanitarian aid and pro bono assistance to Ukrainian refugees and others in need.”

Others to confirm they are exiting Russia include Latham & Watkins, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and Squire Patton Boggs.

The dramatic turn of events follow widespread criticism that law firms were not taking a stand against the invasion, despite the corporate world exiting Russia in their droves.

Norton Rose Fulbright, which was criticised for telling lawyers not to comment on Russian sanctions, was the first to confirm its exit from Kyiv. You can read that story here:

Breaking news: Norton Rose Fulbright to exit Russia


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