Nabarro is to open an office in Dubai in 2014 marking the firm’s third international opening after Brussels and Singapore.
The new office will be headed up by current construction and engineering head Terry Fleet after being granted the necessary licence and will launch with a team of four partners and associates.
It will follow in the Singapore office’s footprints (20 September 2010), focusing on construction and engineering, development, dispute resolution and infrastructure.
Managing partner Graham Stedman said: “The long term plan is to start with those areas and get on a secure and financially viable footing then use Dubai as a hub for the region.”
“I don’t think we’re really about putting pins in maps,” he added.
The move comes after the hire of international head Patricia Godfrey in April to take forward the firm’s international expansion plan as well as consolidating and expanding relationships with Nabarro’s European alliance (4 April 2013).
The UAE makes the third largest contribution to Nabarro’s international revenue in recent years. Last year the firm was appointed to two Qatari Diar panels and it recently advised Abu Dhabi Investment Council and London & Stamford on acquiring interest in the £1.26bn Meadowhall Shopping Centre.
As its new head, Fleet brings experience as a former in-house lawyers with Costain, Babcock International. He has also advised on infastructure and development projects in the UAE.
The construction lawyer was put in charge of the UAE network when the firm first began mulling international growth in 2009. The firm had always shied away from international expansion until that point, when it decided to focus on growing markets for UK investment – citing China, India and the UAE (30 November 2009).
Before launching in Singapore in 2010 Nabarro had only one overseas base in Brussels and alliance relationships with GSK in Germany, August & Debouzy in France and Nunziante Magrone in Italy.
The Dubai office will be run in a similar way to the Singapore office – with a small team of specialist lawyers. Singapore has only four partners, four associates and three other support colleagues.
The firm’s launch there marked a strategic U-turn for the previously UK-focused law firm in 2010. It has been beefing up the team since then, with construction partner and arbitrator Glenn Cheng appointed from legacy Norton Rose appointed in 2011 and Korean law expert David Kim from Malaysian United Industries in June 2012 (29 June 2012).