04 Mar 2022

Linklaters announces closure of Moscow office ending presence spanning 30 years

Magic Circle giant is latest firm to call time on Russian presence in response to Ukraine invasion, winding down 70-lawyer operation

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Linklaters has become the latest – and largest firm – to pull out of Moscow in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The UK Magic Circle firm said it would wind down operations in Russia and close its Moscow office while continuing to support its Russia team, 'doing all we can to help them transfer to new roles within Linklaters or otherwise'.

The announcement comes at the end of a week that has seen law firms rapidly ramp up their response to the conflict in the face of mounting pressure for the legal profession to play a more assertive role supporting international efforts to isolate the Putin regime.

Having said it was reviewing all Russia-related work on Wednesday, the firm said it had now resolved to 'not act for individuals or entities that are controlled by, or under the influence of, the Russian state, or connected with the current Russian regime, wherever they are in the world'.

It added that it would wind down existing work 'in accordance with our legal and professional obligations' and 'continue to assist international clients in dealing with the implications of the current crisis and in unwinding their Russian business interests'.

Linklaters has been present in Moscow since 1992 and has more than 70 Russian and international lawyers, including 10 partners, based in Russia. 

‘As the appalling war in Ukraine continues, our immediate thoughts remain with the Ukrainian people. We continue working to ensure our colleagues and their families who are impacted are safe and have all the support they need,’ the firm said. 

Earlier today CMS put the future of its 20-lawyer office under critical review and yesterday leading Swedish firm Mannheimer Swartling said it had relocated all of its Swedish lawyers based in Moscow ahead of plans to exit the Russian legal market ‘in an orderly manner’.

Speaking to The Global Legal Post from his office in Kyiv this morning, Andriy Stelmashchuk, managing partner of Ukrainian law firm Vasil Kisil & Partners, called on international law firms to quit Russia in order to increase the economic pressure being applied on the Putin regime in response to the invasion.

"I am expecting all international companies to terminate their operations in Russia," he said, "otherwise they are paying for those bullets which are killing Ukrainian soldiers.”

Read Global Legal Post's coverage of the Ukraine invasion here

 

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