Legal market overview
The sanctions imposed on Russia by the US, the European Union, Japan and a number of other states in response to Russia’s role in the Ukrainian crisis have had a significant impact on the legal market and have added to the uncertainty surrounding the Russian economy. This factor combined with the sanctions against a number of Russian financial institutions has sparked a collapse in inbound foreign investment and triggered a flight of capital out of Russia. The corporate, commercial and capital markets practices of a number of law firms have consequently seen a significant fall in new instructions. A number of UK and US firms have also opted to stop acting for sanctioned entities and individuals, leaving a gap that Russian law firms have been only too keen to fill. The increasing role of state-owned firms in the Russian economy, and their willingness to adopt Russian law when engaging in transactions, has added impetus to this movement.
However, law firms have also found that clients are relying on their advice regarding sanctions and this has resulted in more instructions on how to operate under the various sanction regimes. Moreover, those foreign investors that are already embedded in Russia remain active and continue to provide a steady flow of instructions for law firms, notably in real estate and domestic M&A. Dispute resolution, where international and Russian firms compete on an equal footing, remains an active area. The country’s two former highest courts were merged into one Supreme Court located in St Petersburg, although the impact of this remains to be seen.
Firms in the spotlight
Goltsblat BLP, the Russian practice of Berwin Leighton Paisner
Goltsblat BLP is the Russian practice of Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), an award-winning international law firm with over 800 lawyers in 11 offices in major commercial and financial centres – London, Moscow, Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Berlin, Brussels, Dubai, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Paris and Singapore. With a team of 100 Russian, English and US-qualified lawyers based in Moscow, Goltsblat BLP is one of the biggest international law firms in Russia/CIS