Law firm highlights (Sep 24, 2020)
Squire Patton Boggs to close Doha Office
Squire Patton Boggs is closing its Doha office after deciding to invest in growth elsewhere on the Arabian Peninsula. The firm expects the closure to be completed in the coming months and is working closely with its Doha team to assure that they have a seamless transition to a new firm and that our Doha clients will be well-served in the transition.
“As we assessed our long-term position in the region, it became increasingly clear that our presence in Doha was not core to our strategy. Our commitment to our clients in the region is stronger than ever, and we continue to serve them from our offices in Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai, where we have added more than a dozen timekeepers over the past 18 months,” said chairman and global CEO Mark Ruehlmann. “We have a fantastic group of people in our Doha office, and we wish them the very best in their future endeavors and thank them for their many contributions to the firm.”
Akin Gump’s Dubai office returns to DIFC
Akin Gump has announced that, effective September 20, 2020, the firm has moved into new office space in ICD Brookfield Place in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). The DIFC was the location for Akin Gump’s first office in the UAE in 2007.
The office’s new address is ICD Brookfield Place, Level 10, Al Mustaqbal Street, Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Akin Gump Dubai partner in charge, Mahmoud (Mac) Fadlallah commented, “In 2007, the DIFC licensed Akin Gump as the first U.S. law firm in what has since become one of the world’s leading financial free zones. This move marks the next exciting chapter for the firm in its original UAE home. We look forward to welcoming our clients and colleagues in what will make an ideal office environment both now and in the future.”
Akin Gump’s Dubai office advises public and private sector clients across a range of practice areas including: energy, oil and gas, antibribery and anticorruption, sanctions, export controls and other compliance and investigations matters, debt and equity capital markets, Islamic and conventional finance, corporate M&A, public policy, investment funds and dispute resolution, as well as construction and engineering, cybersecurity, entertainment and other economic activity in the region.
CMS expands in the UAE
CMS has announced the opening of an office in Abu Dhabi and the extension of its Dubai office lease in Burj Daman Tower, DIFC, through to November 2027. Expanding the firm’s presence into Abu Dhabi adds to CMS’s existing platform in the region, which covers Iraq (North and South), Lebanon, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. David Moore, a partner in the firm’s Infrastructure and Project Finance team (focussing on the transport sector), will be appointed to manage the Abu Dhabi office with support from the team in Dubai.
John O’Connor, co-managing partner of UAE at CMS, commented, “We are delighted to be opening an office in Abu Dhabi and reaffirming our commitment to Dubai. This has been an important objective of ours for many years, and will allow us to provide a better, more tailored service to our clients in the Capital and across the UAE. Putting boots on the ground in Abu Dhabi is a natural next step for us and will help power our growth in the years to come.” Across the UAE and the Middle East, CMS supports clients in energy and infrastructure, financial institutions, healthcare, education, hospitality, real estate & construction and TMT sectors. The firm has recently won a number of high-profile instructions, including panel positions with leading Abu Dhabi entities such as Etihad Rail and Aldar Properties Group.
Keystone Law launches operations in the Middle East
Keystone Law announced last month that it has finalised the arrangements for its first office in the Middle East.
The establishment of Keystone Law Middle East LLP (“KLME”) has been now been approved by the Abu Dhabi Global Market (“ADGM”), the award-winning international finance centre located in the heart of the UAE’s capital city, Abu Dhabi, where the firm’s new head office will also be based. A second office in the Emirate of Dubai is likely to follow due to strong interest from lawyers in the region who are looking to join the firm.
The firm will operate substantially the same business model as Keystone Law in the UK. KLME will be led by Waseem Khokhar, who will act as managing partner. Waseem previously established PwC Legal in the Middle East and more recently led the growth of DWF’s Middle East offices up until 2018. He will be joined by Saleem Khokhar, who will be the firm’s chief operating officer. Saleem was previously the head of equities at First Abu Dhabi Bank.
Waseem Khokhar said, “The Middle East has a vibrant and diverse legal market, which is now prime for Keystone’s unique model offering independence and flexibility to experienced lawyers. We are currently in advanced discussions to recruit a number of excellent international lawyers to the firm.”