Global law firm Baker McKenzie is the latest BigLaw player to exit Russia, with its operations in Moscow and St Petersburg to become an independent law firm.
Last week, Baker McKenzie said that it was “reviewing and adjusting” its Russia-related operations and client work and that “in some cases, [the firm will be] exiting client relationships completely”.
In a statement issued overnight (15 March) (Australian time), the global law firm announced that it is pulling out of Russia, with its current operations in the country – located in Moscow and St Petersburg – to become an independent law firm.
The announcement follows that of numerous global firms (Norton Rose Fulbright, DLA Piper, Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance and Herbert Smith Freehills) that withdrew from the country last week, as well as White & Case, which closed its Moscow office over the weekend, and Dentons, which exited Russia earlier this week.
Baker said that it had made this “difficult decision” following consultation with its multinational clients and consideration for the wellbeing of the firm’s staff across the wider region.
“Baker McKenzie was the first global law firm to be registered in Russia, while the country was still part of the Soviet Union. The firm employs more than 260 colleagues, including 130 lawyers, in Russia. We thank, and will continue to support, the many partners, associates, business professionals and others who have worked so hard to build this business. Many have been part of the Baker McKenzie team for decades,” the firm declared.
“At the same time, we strongly condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which stands in stark contrast to our values, the values of our clients and those of the wider global business community.
“We will not act for any individuals or entities that are controlled by, or directly linked to, the Russian state and/or current regime, anywhere in the world. We remain fully focused on the safety of our colleagues in Ukraine and the wider region.”