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DLA Piper is to launch in Bahrain, making it one of the few international firms with offices in every single Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) jurisdiction.
Regional managing partner David Church said the firm’s strategy of rapid regional growth, which has seen it expand to 270 staff within three years, is the primary driver of the launch.
“It’s obviously not the greatest time to be expanding, but we thought Bahrain was important and we now have offices in all six of the GCC countries,” he said.
The Bahrain office will be managed by Kuwait managing partner Alex Saleh, who will split his time equally between both offices. He will be joined in Bahrain by two secondees from the Kuwait office.
A Bahrain base has been on the firm’s shopping list since it launched in Kuwait in October 2008 (The Lawyer, 13 October 2008).
“From the time we did the Kuwaiti joint venture the Bahrain opening was always on the cards. It goes hand-in-hand. Bahrain is really almost an extension of Kuwait for a lot of business purposes,” said Saleh.
DLA Piper hopes to pick up more work from the tiny Gulf kingdom’s substantial banking community, which is one of the world’s Islamic finance capitals.
“Bahrain has historically been the Gulf banking centre. It has around 400 financial institutions and acting for them will be a major part [of our work], together with international infrastructure work,” confirmed Church.
DLA Piper joins a handful of international firms with offices in Bahrain. They include Baker & McKenzie, Norton Rose and Trowers & Hamlins.