Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) is launching a two-pronged assault on the Middle East through the establishment of new associations in both Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia.
It has formed best-friend relationships with local firm Salem Al Maddfa Advocates & Legal Consultants in Abu Dhabi and lawyer Faisal Al Lazam in Saudi Arabia to focus on commodities, insurance, litigation and oil and gas work.
Al Lazam is the ex-general counsel of Saudi insurance company Tawuniya and now operates a small practice of his own.
While international firms require local sponsors in Saudi, there is no such specification in Abu Dhabi, where Salem Al Maddfa has a background in criminal work. However, HFW commercial director James Huckle said the firm chose to work with Al Maddfa rather than alone because of the Abu Dhabi lawyer’s contacts and the fact that it is “easier than going in cold”. HFW already has a three-partner office in Dubai, which it bolstered recently with a hire of Ince & Co construction partner Paul Suckling.
Huckle said the new associations should hedge its Dubai practice further.
“To a degree [the Abu Dhabi and Saudi relationships] are prompted by problems in the Dubai market. To just have an office in Dubai narrows [your capability].
“The Middle East is quite a fragmented market. I think the secret there is to have a regional presence - that builds experience in jurisdictions like Abu Dhabi and reinforces what we do in Dubai.”