Addleshaws late to the world party

Firm is playing catch-up in the international arena

Addleshaw Goddard’s international expansion has come later than most, with the firm’s first overseas office (in Singapore) opening in May last year.

Since then there have been openings in Dubai, one in Oman through an association with Nasser al Habsi and, last week, one in Qatar.

The firm has also secured a Hong Kong licence and, as The Lawyer reveals today, is entering into an alliance with Tokyo-based Hashidate Law Office. Another association is on the horizon, with international divisional managing partner Andrew Carpenter eyeing Saudi Arabia. There are also opportunities in Libya.

This growth is focused on the Middle East and South East Asia, but is Addleshaws late to the party? Carpenter confesses the firm has missed out on instructions because of its domestic focus.

“We’ve been doing a lot of business in the Gulf region for Japanese and Korean investors in construction,” he says, “and we were missing mandates because we didn’t have a presence.”

Now the firm is trying to find a space in each of its new chosen markets. In Singapore, for example, Carpenter says magic circle firms have cornered the market for big-ticket instructions and local firms pick up domestic work. The gap for Addleshaws, therefore, was “cross-border commercial and financial work”.

This may seem a scattergun approach, but Addleshaws has one eye on established markets and the other on emerging countries. It will have to move quickly if it is going to make its presence felt.