The reaction of Italian law firms to the Russian-Ukrainian crisis

Italia Oggi devotes an in-depth study to the response of law firms to the crisis triggered by the conflict in Ukraine. Over the past year, many Russian offices of international firms have emptied, in step with the outflow of large firms.

However, the decision of lawyers whether or not to continue serving their clients affected by sanctions is complicated by several factors. Between the elements that make the decision understandable, there are the impact of sanctions and counter-sanctions, the suspension of the activities of most Western multinationals in Russia, the paralysis of export operations, critical issues in payments, transfers of people and goods, procurement, and contact management, as well as the actual willingness to take a stand and the risk to which the companies’ reputations would be exposed if they decided to stay.

The responsibility of law firms to their clients

In this complicated situation, practitioners also had to deal with the sensitive issue of access to justice: one of the deontological principles underlying forensic ethics is the obligation not to abandon one’s clients and to always safeguarding the client’s interests. It means that it would be unprofessional to stop following up with proxies who have already been assisted, failing the trust that has been placed in the figure of the professional, in his or her technical, professional and moral qualities.

Andrea Ferrandi, Partner and Coordinator of the Legal department of Andersen in Italy, contributed to the article by commenting, “Today’s situation will lead, to a tendency, to a decrease in professional activity, given the progressive abandonment of investments towards Russia. Nevertheless, Italian companies, need assistance on foreign soil precisely because of relationships that have been interrupted or have become more burdensome as a result of the war conflict, and law firms are responding as far as they are able.”

It is this dynamic that has led many firms to choose to strengthen their Russian Desks, so that they can respond more effectively to their clients’ new issues and to the changes introduced by international dialogues with Russian and Belarusian counterparts.