London-based law firm DLA Piper recently stepped in to run an advice service for Ukrainians seeking refuge in the U.K., according to The Law Society Gazette. The service, available via the Ukraine Advice Project UK website, was initially established by immigration lawyers shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
More than 430 volunteer lawyers responded to nearly 700 requests for help within two weeks of the site’s going live. DLA Piper said that the service has grown to an “unmanageable scale” in a short amount of time, given its beginnings as a spare-time project of six friends, according to The Gazette.
DLA Piper’s resources will be a boon to these pro bono efforts aimed at advising Ukrainians on their UK visa and asylum options, according to C.J. McKinney, one of the lawyers who launched the service.
DLA Piper’s pro bono team is drawing upon its members’ experience in providing legal information to Afghans seeking refuge in the U.K. in 2021. DLA Piper’s lawyers “are providing information about legal routes to the U.K. and triaging complex queries to specialist immigration lawyers,” according to the firm’s website.
The firm also announced recently that it is closing its Russian offices in response to the Ukraine conflict. After 17 years of operating in Moscow and St. Petersburg, the firm will shut down its Russia operations. It does not feel that it should support clients connected to the Russian state and that maintaining its presence in the Russia is not aligned with the firm’s values, according to a DLA Piper spokesperson.
Not only have many major law firms joined DLA Piper in shutting down their Russian operations, but some have joined the firm in its pro bono efforts to help Ukrainian refugees. Hogan Lovells, for instance, has established a joint pro bono legal advice service with other law firms.