Engage or Not Engage? U.S. Legal Practice in Russia, China and Other Authoritarian Regimes

The invasion of Ukraine has prompted many leading U.S. and British law firms to close their offices in Russia. Some have done so citing safety and security concerns. Others are pulling out in light of the Putin regime’s violations of international humanitarian, human rights and criminal law. These developments have highlighted the professional, ethical and legal challenges that face American law firms operating not just in Russia, but also in other authoritarian regimes, such as China, alleged to have committed systemic human rights violations.

What are the constraints on the practice of law in such states and when do the limitations become untenable? Does working in such regimes promote the rule of law? At what point might operating in such systems amount to complicity in their violations? This event brings together leading practitioners, academics and human rights advocates to consider these and related issues that have arisen out of the U.S. legal community’s response to the war in Ukraine.

Moderator: Jerome Cohen, Professor Emeritus, NYU School of Law


Rayhan Asat, Tom and Andi Bernstein Visiting Human Rights Fellow, Yale Law School
David Curran, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
Stephen Kass, Chair, New York City Bar Association Rule of Law Task Force
Michael Posner, Stern School of Business, NYU and former Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor