Julian helps a lawyer out of reception.
Ince warned its people not to express an opinion about Russia's invasion, claiming that its listed status prevented it from giving an opinion.
After RollOnFriday published a rundown of firms' responses to the invasion, Senior Partner Julian Clark told Ince staff that, "As a listed company, we need to avoid reference to political matters and maintain conscious as to what we say publicly". The firm refused to comment at the time.
"You will have seen in the legal press how other law firms are reacting to the awful situation that continues to unfold in Ukraine", he said in an email leaked to ROF, but, "At this stage, our stance is to not comment on the situation save in relation to the provision of legal advice and commentary".
"I would urge all of you to keep this in mind when engaging on social media in the firm's name", warned Clarke.
Ince's neutral approach of practising law and not social commentary will meet with approval from lawyers who bridle at firms announcing a stance on current affairs. However, Clark's email suggests the potential for more fees may have been the driving force behind Ince’s dignified silence. "Please note we have preparing [sic] a flyer detailing our war risks and sanctions expertise specifically which have been circulated to the Heads of Departments and Heads of International Offices", he wrote.
Clark specified that Ince's existing Russian clients would be subject to review, while new Russian clients would need to be signed off by the firm's Executive Board, and prospective Russian clients who were subject to sanctions "in any of the jurisdictions in which there is an Ince Group office" were to be referred to Clark personally for approval. "We will observe sanctions fully", he added.
An insider said, "The staff’s interpretation is that the firm will mop up Russian clients from other firms where possible, and has not gone down well". The source said that hardline employees who wanted to expel all Russian clients were "miffed" because "the email does not state that they will not act for Russian clients".
Since 7 March when the email was sent, the firm appears to have decided that the PR benefits of opposing the war outweigh Ince's requirement "as a listed company" to "avoid reference to political matters", as the firm sponsored this week's Law Rocks concert in support of Ukraine, and allowed a band to perform at the show.
Ince declined to tell RollOnFriday what compelled it to change its stance, and did not respond to a request for comment.
If you've spied any intriguing Russia shenanigans, send RollOnFriday the details.
*as imagined by ROF, the real one probably had a plane on it as well.