Latham & Watkins in mass transfer to Middle East

<a class=Latham & Watkins in mass transfer to Middle East” />Latham & Watkins is dramatically scaling up its Middle East presence, transferring five partners to the region just months after the firm opened three offices there simultaneously.

From London, high yield partner Bryant Edwards and M&A partner Charles Fuller are relocating to Dubai, along with corporate partner Nick O’Keefe from Silicon Valley and projects partner Ken Schuhmacher from New York. They will be accompanied by a team of associates.

Projects partner Dennis Nordstrom is moving from London to Abu Dhabi, also with associates.

Additionally, New York finance partner and global finance chair Bill Voge is relocating to London, along with California high yield partner Tracy Edmonson.

Voge told The Lawyer: “What we’re doing in the Middle East is based on the good relationships we’ve established over 15 years but it’s also because of the capital coming out of the region and the macroeconomic situation. There will be a serious increase in the demand for high level legal services.”

Latham now has offices in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar, and the mass posting further underlines the strategic importance of the Middle East to Latham’s global ambitions.

Latham’s best-known client in the region is the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), but the firm is aiming to attract leveraged finance, corporate and projects work from sovereign investment funds and financial institutions among others.

Although US firms have traditionally focused on the Saudi market, Latham is one of the latest of the Sweet Sixteen firms in the Transatlantic Elite to ramp up in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Last month The Lawyer revealed that Weil Gotshal was set to open in both centres (2 June 2008).

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher opened in Dubai late last year on the back of its relationship with Investcorp.

To read more on Latham & Watkins’ strategy, see the Sweet Sixteen