Clifford Chance brings Saudi ally team aboard for mixed practice launch

Clifford Chance is to establish a mixed local and foreign lawyer partnership in Saudi Arabia by transferring longstanding co-operation firm Al-Jadaan’s two-partner transactional practice into the magic circle firm.

Banking partner Abdulaziz Al-Abduljabbar and corporate and capital markets partner Khalid Al-Abdulkareem, both Saudi-qualified, will join Clifford Chance, whose team in the kingdom will comprise four partners, one counsel, 17 associates and 20 support staff.

Clifford Chance’s current Riyadh-based Saudi team consists of English-qualified partners Tim Plews and Omar Rashid in banking and corporate respectively.

The UK firm claims to be the first international law firm to establish this type of partnership in the country after receiving approval from the Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The firm said it intended that the new venture would launch 1 January 2014.

The practice transferring from Al Jadaan covers corporate, finance and capital markets. All associates in the firm’s transactional areas and a number of business services staff will also transfer to Clifford Chance, the firm said.

Meanwhile, Al Jadaan’s disputes team will continue as partners at the Saudi firm, which Clifford Chance said would operate as a niche boutique focusing on litigation and mediation, legal strategies and structuring activities. Mohammed Al-Jadaan will remain managing partner of Al-Jadaan and act as a special adviser to Clifford Chance in Saudi Arabia, according to the magic circle firm, but the co-operation agreement will not continue in its present form.

It is understood the firm chose not to bring Al Jadaan’s litigation team on board because a disputes practice was not presently part of the firm’s plans in the country.

Graham Lovett, Clifford Chance regional managing partner for the Middle East, said in a statement: “The decision to establish our own entity in this way is very much a response to the growing Saudi-specific demands of our global and local clients, who have already reacted well to our increased investment in Saudi Arabia. The relationship with Al-Jadaan has been extremely successful and positive and it seemed natural to build our Saudi practice by taking our existing collaboration to the next level. Being able to offer clients the very best support in Saudi is critical to our commitment to the region.”

Mohammed Al-Jadaan said: “This ground-breaking move reconciles the ambitions of the Al-Jadaan partners with the long term needs of our clients. The new entity will enable the partners and associates in the Al Jadaan transactional practices to continue to set the highest standard for legal services in the Saudi market, while at Al Jadaan we will be able to develop further our litigation, mediation, legal strategies and structuring-focused advice to clients. This development is also great news for Saudi legal talent who will now have the opportunity to train with and develop their careers in one of the world’s leading international firms, ensuring they benefit from an institutionalised career path.”

Clifford Chance managing partner David Childs said: “This first-of-a-kind international partnership demonstrates our ambition to deepen relationships for the long-term with important Saudi Arabian enterprises and our global clients with interests in Saudi, both of which are critical components in our growth strategy for the Middle East. I look forward to welcoming Abdulaziz and Khalid into the partnership and to developing a new generation of Clifford Chance partners in Saudi.”