Norton Rose Fulbright To Shutter Moscow Office

(March 7, 2022, 4:22 PM EST) -- Norton Rose Fulbright on Monday became the latest firm to announce the shuttering of its Moscow office.

In a statement, the firm said it is "winding down" its operations in Russia and would be closing the Moscow office as quickly as possible in response to Russia's "brutal invasion" of Ukraine.

"Norton Rose Fulbright stands unequivocally with the people of Ukraine who are suffering as a result of the increasingly brutal invasion by Russia," the firm said.

"The well-being of our staff in the region is a priority," it said. "We thank our 50 colleagues in Moscow for their loyal service and will support them through this transition."

In addition, the firm said it would not be "accepting any further instructions from businesses, entities or individuals connected with the current Russian regime, irrespective of whether they are sanctioned or not." And it is still considering exiting from more work related to Russia.

The international firm is one of a few firms that have announced full departures from Russia. Magic Circle firm Linklaters LLP said Friday that it would wind down its operations in Russia and close its office there. U.K. law firm Kennedys and Swedish law firm Mannheimer Swartling have both also said they are winding down their operations in Russia, according to U.K. publication Global Legal Post.

Another firm with a large presence in Moscow might be considering an exit. Eversheds Sutherland told Law360 on Monday that it is "actively reviewing" its operations in Russia. The firm has a Moscow office with 40 lawyers, according to its website. 

Other firms have voiced support for Ukraine and said they would cut ties with some Russian clients on whom sanctions were being imposed by the U.S. and U.K., but have been mum about whether their offices will close entirely.

Winston & Strawn LLP, for instance, released a statement Friday saying it would withdraw from the representation of Russian state-owned entities and any clients "who we reasonably believe have known ties to Russia's war efforts." But the firm wouldn't comment on whether it had plans to close its Moscow office.

White & Case LLP also told Law360 on Monday that its Moscow office remained open and continued to operate.

"We are reviewing our Russian and Belarusian client representations and taking steps to exit some representations in accordance with applicable rules of professional responsibility," the firm said. "Our Moscow office is open and continues to operate. We are complying fully with all applicable sanctions, and we continue to closely monitor this rapidly evolving situation."

Other firms that have said they would sever their relationships with Russian clients in accordance with sanctions are Baker McKenzie, Venable LLP and Sidley Austin LLP. Allen & Overy LLP also said it was reviewing client relationships and planned to terminate some.

In 2014, 17 of the Law360 Global 20 had offices in Moscow. Following Russia's annexation of Crimea that year, a handful of firms scaled back operations in the country, and by 2019, three of those firms had closed their Moscow offices. 

Experts say they believe more firms will leave Russia.

--Additional reporting by Aebra Coe. Editing by Gemma Horowitz.

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