Baker McKenzie’s Ukraine business resumes operations as war enters second month
Kyiv office will remain closed for visitors and meetings, with staff working elsewhere in Ukraine and Europe
Baker McKenzie has resumed its Ukrainian operations having previously suspended work in the country following Russia’s invasion last month.
Bakers said its Kyiv office remains closed for visitors and meetings, though its lawyers and other support staff are providing services to clients from other locations in Ukraine and from the firm’s other European offices.
In a statement posted on the firm’s Baker McKenzie – Kyiv LinkedIn page, it said: “We are confident that the Kyiv office will return to its regular operation soon! Glory to Ukraine!”
Bakers shut its Ukraine office on the day of Russia’s invasion to prioritise staff safety, as did other international firms including CMS, Dentons and Taylor Wessing.
Earlier this month, the managing partner of Ukrainian law firm Vasil Kisil & Partners, Andriy Stelmashchuk, told GLP that he and his colleagues were working remotely, conducting some legal work for international clients operating in Ukraine on measures relating to the crisis, such as the safety of their staff and data protection.
However, he was also assisting in the defence of Kyiv by delivering food and medicine to the army and territorial defence units.
More coverage of the impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on the legal profession
Bakers was one of the last firms to exit Russia in the wake of the invasion, spinning out its Moscow and St Petersburg offices into an independent law firm. Bakers had been operating in Russia for more than three decades, becoming the first Western firm to open in the country during the final years of the Soviet Union.
Bakers said it was a ‘difficult decision’ to withdraw from the country given the time spent building its Russian business, though it made clear its condemnation of Russia’s invasion and added that it will not act for any individuals or entities that are controlled by, or directly linked to, the Russian state and/or the current regime anywhere in the world.
The majority of international firms announced plans to quit Russia because of the country’s war in Ukraine. Dentons, for instance, hived off its 250-strong Russian business into an independent firm, though it left open the possibility for it to rejoin Dentons in the future. Linklaters was the first major international firm to announce its withdrawal on March 4, just over a week after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion.
Since then, firms including White & Case, Latham & Watkins, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Norton Rose Fulbright, Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, CMS and DLA Piper have announced their departure from Russia.
Meanwhile, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has been appointed as counsel by Ukraine’s Ministry of Justice in European human rights proceedings being brought against Russia.
The proceedings, which will be brought under the European Convention on Human Rights, arise from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which the firm called 'unprovoked, unjustified and unlawful acts of aggression'.