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“The team was recently visible advising on a number of pharmaceutical cases. Sources agree that the team is “moving in the right direction” and are particularly impressed by its work in the pharmaceutical sector”.


Ukraine: Lawyers on the edge


Mikhail Ilyashev, managing partner of Ilyashev & Partners
Source: The Lawyer (UK)

Everyday legal work is at a halt and the country’s lawyers stand ready to do their bit in the army if the Russians move in.

The political crisis in Ukraine has shifted the priorities of the country’s lawyers. Day-to-day legal activity has ground to a halt as citizens work out what the impact of the overthrow of the government led by Viktor Yanukovych and the ensuing annexation of the Crimean peninsula by Russia means.

Kiev’s nascent government has in the past fortnight mobilised some 40,000 army reservists as the crisis intensifies. The first round of part-time soldiers – given its marching orders as a response to Russian president Vladimir Putin’s move to station 50,000 Russian troops on Ukraine’s eastern border – consists for the most part of students and younger workers.

But if the situation worsens the next call-up could see much of Ukraine’s business law profession in uniform. As Ilyashev & Partners managing partner Mikhail Ilyashev explains, many lawyers joined the reserves while studying law at university and remain on call. More than half the 30-strong qualified team at his firm are in that category.

“Many lawyers, including myself, are reservists,” he says. “It dates back to our time at university, when we had military training alongside our degrees. Most of those doing law degrees will also have qualified as officers in the reserves. So far, we’ve just been put on notice and not fully called up. If the government sticks with the 40,000 it’s not likely that it will affect us. But if it increases that number there’s a strong possibility we will be mobilised.”

Such a drastic move would clearly have considerable professional and personal ramifications. But then, acknowledges Ilyashev, by that stage all normality would have evaporated.

“If that happened,” he sighs, “the situation would be so bad there wouldn’t be much standard legal work to be done for it to make a difference to the firm. It would be a case of armed conflict.”

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