How lawyers can show support for people in Ukraine
The Law Society stands in solidarity with people in Ukraine following the Russian Federation’s illegal invasion of the country.
Our president I. Stephanie Boyce said:
“We condemn the actions of the Russian Federation, which are in contravention of international law. There is no doubt that these actions are a direct threat to the rule of law.”
Stephanie met with the president of the Ukrainian Bar Association, Anna Ogrenchuk, to stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.
We've also made a joint oral statement at the United Nations Human Rights Council condemning Russia's violations of international law, its repression of dissent and crackdown on lawyers.
How you can help
Pro bono action from the legal profession
If you’re a lawyer looking to help advise Ukrainians pro bono, make sure that you have the requisite expertise in any areas you're volunteering to advise in.
Ukraine Advice Project UK
Immigration lawyers have launched an advice service to provide free help and support to Ukrainians seeking refuge in the UK in the wake of the Russian invasion.
The project is being supported by DLA Piper.
Get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org if you're:
- a qualified immigration lawyer looking to volunteer pro bono advice, or
- a Ukrainian national seeking immigration legal advice
Ukraine Justice Alliance
Lawyers, law firms and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have formed a coalition offering legal expertise and support to Ukrainian people, Ukrainian NGOs, civil society organisations and the government of Ukraine.
The group plans to focus on activities such as:
- accountability and prosecutions
- evidence-gathering and information provision
- strategic refugee and asylum advice
The immediate focus is on practical assistance for Ukrainians on the ground and critical legal issues, such as immigration and preservation of evidence.
If you're a lawyer with relevant expertise (such as international criminal law) looking to help, email email@example.com.
Please note that this is a rapidly evolving area, and the above pro bono initiatives are only the ones the Law Society is aware of at time of publishing. There may be others that will be added in the future. The Law Society cannot comment on the operations of the above pro bono initiatives.
There are many charities running appeals in response to the crisis in Ukraine. Some of the largest national appeals are:
This is not an exhaustive list.
Homes for Ukraine scheme
The government has opened a scheme allowing individuals, charities, community groups and businesses in the UK to help bring Ukrainians to safety, including those with no family ties to the UK.
Initiatives by the Ukrainian National Bar Association
The Ukrainian National Bar Association (UNBA) is carrying out various initiatives in support of lawyers affected by the conflict.
(To read the site in English, you'll need to use a translating system such as Google Translate.)
Please note that the Law Society is not regularly monitoring updates to this page and cannot verify its content.
Learn more about the legal issues
Russia's invasion of Ukraine raises many issues of public international law, international humanitarian law and international criminal law.
Since the invasion, related cases have been brought and are pending before the International Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights.
For more information, as well as guidance on evidence-gathering and expert views, visit the Ukraine transitional justice and documentation portal.
England and Wales are open to Ukrainian lawyers and law firms
Ukrainian lawyers who relocate to England and Wales are entitled to practise under their home-country professional title. They do not need to qualify as solicitors nor sit any exam in order to practise here.
They can provide legal services in Ukrainian law, international law and English law (including drafting contracts) with the only exception of a small number of activities.
They can work:
- in a UK law firm
- in a company as in-house lawyers
- as sole practitioners, or
- in partnership with, or be employed by, English and Welsh solicitors or other international lawyers
Requalifying in England and Wales
Ukrainian lawyers who wish to gain the professional title of 'solicitor' can sit the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE), though this is not necessary to practise under your home professional title (see above).
The SRA welcomes applications from lawyers from Ukraine and is happy to discuss individual circumstances. It will make decisions on a case-by-case basis, using the available evidence.
Where it is difficult to access to certain documents required for the exam, alternative documentation can be used to support an application.
Ukrainian law firms can open offices in England and Wales.
They do not need to register with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) unless they want to provide services in a small number of areas. No permission is required to establish a business presence in the UK, although there are regulations on the use of business names and in certain business sectors.
Resources for UK nationals in Ukraine
The UK Visa Application Centre in Kyiv is now closed and all UK visa services in Kyiv are suspended.
If you’re trying to leave Ukraine:
Call +380 44 490 3660 or +44 (0)1908 516666 and select the option for “consular services for British nationals”