Squire Patton Boggs becomes fourth major law firm to pull out of Ukraine in four years

Squire Patton Boggs has become the latest major law firm to pull out of Ukraine, having closed its office in Kiev as part of a restructuring in the region.

A firm spokesman confirmed the closure, saying it was due to “continued challenging market conditions”.

The spokesman added that the firm will continue to service Ukraine work through its formal association with eight-partner local practice Salkom, which has been in place since 2013.

A spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for information on staff layoffs or relocations as a result of the closure. Peter Teluk’s LinkedIn profile still lists him as a partner at the firm, but his page on the firm’s website has been removed. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Squire Patton Boggs is the fourth big law firm to withdraw from Ukraine in the past four years, with the country’s economy – and legal market – heavily impacted by civil unrest and the annexation by Russia of Crimea. “Transactional work is completely dead. Law firms are barely surviving. There are no new clients,” one Ukraine-based lawyer told The American Lawyer in 2014. (The resulting international sanctions against Russia have also significantly affected law firms operating in that country.)

Legacy Chadbourne & Parke (now Norton Rose Fulbright, following a combination earlier this year) and Germany’s Beiten Burkhardt, both closed their offices in 2013, with their lawyers being picked up by Dentons and French firm Gide Loyrette Nouel, among others.

Fellow German firm Noerr also closed its Kiev base that year, with its lawyers forming a new independent boutique, Nobles. This was then mirrored in 2015 by Clifford Chance (CC), whose Kiev lawyers established Redcliffe Partners when the magic circle firm decided to exit the market. Both Noerr and CC maintain referral ties with their former lawyers in Ukraine.

The latest closure leaves Baker McKenzieCMSDLA Piper and Dentons as the only Global 100 firms with offices in Ukraine.

Big Four accounting firms DeloitteEYKPMG and PwC also each have legal services operations in the country.

The market is otherwise dominated by independent local practices including Aequo, ArzingerAstersIlyashev & Partners and Sayenko Kharenko. Russia’s Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners also has a strong presence in Ukraine.

Legacy Squire Sanders, which combined with Washington DC-based Patton Boggs in 2014, first launched in Kiev in 1995, but spun off the practice in 2003 to local outfit The Silecky Firm in a deal that saw the pair form an exclusive alliance.

Squire then re-opened in Ukraine in 2008, hiring an eight-lawyer team from Silecky. (The founder of that firm, Markian Silecky, is now a partner at Dentons.)

Aside from closing its Ukraine office, Squire has continued to expand since its formative merger in 2014. The firm acquired 55-lawyer San Francisco-based Carroll Burdick & McDonough in 2015, while its revenue increased 6% in the last financial year to $983m. Global managing partner Steve Mahon told The American Lawyer at the time that the firm’s financial performance had exceeded its budget by almost 10%.

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