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CMS Cameron McKenna has decided to temporarily suspend trainee secondments to Kiev following the recent unrest in Ukraine.
It is the only Western firm to send trainees to the city, although Baker & McKenzie and Dentons also have outposts located there.
CMS graduate recruitment partner Simon Pilcher told Lawyer 2B that the firm had experienced visa issues, common to Ukraine and unrelated to the unrest, and had flown trainee Natasha Heald back to London in November one week before protesters gathered to oppose the Ukrainian government seeking closer ties with Russia.
Another trainee, Tom Macleod, was due to replace Heald in Kiev following the firm’s seat rotation last week; however CMS made the decision not to send him to the city. Macleod is now working for the Kiev office, but from London.
“Our managing partner is giving us almost daily updates about the situation there,” Pilcher said. “We did not think it was wise to send somebody who does not know the city out there right now. That is not to say he won’t go in the future.”
Heald was working in the Kiev office’s international private equity department before flying back to London to work for them remotely.
“I actually came back a week before it all started and there was no sign of anything happening: it was just like any other European city,” she said. “I was so shocked. I think it would be terrifying [to be there now].”
CMS’s Kiev office is just 750m away from Independence Square, a main hub of the protests, with the flat for seconded trainees located close by.
“In their spare time, people at the office brought food to the protestors and at some point or another everybody in the office was involved in protesting,” Heald said, adding that the office had only closed its doors for just over a week.