Morgan Lewis to set up in Dubai with Vinson & Elkins trio

Morgan Lewis & Bockius is to launch in Dubai with a three-partner team from US rival Vinson & Elkins (V&E) including Middle East managing partner Ayman Khaleq.

Khaleq, a finance and capital markets specialist, will be joined at Morgan Lewis’ base in the emirate by corporate partner James Knight and energy partner Lewis Jones.

Jones, a former Middle East managing partner at V&E, is currently based in London and will split his time between the City and Dubai on joining Morgan Lewis.

Knight joined the firm yesterday (1 July), while Khaleq and Jones are still working their notice periods.

Until the Dubai office opens, Khaleq will spend time in Morgan Lewis’s London office, while Knight will temporarily be housed in the Houston base.

A year ago Morgan Lewis set up outposts in Moscow and Almaty with hires from Dewey & LeBoeuf (4 May 2012)

The latest launch follows a scaling back by V&E in the Middle East amid a tough time for international firms in the region (17 June 2013).

Norton Rose Fulbright is also on the cusp of losing a large team in Dubai, with a group of legacy Fulbright & Jaworski partner currently in talks to join US firm Baker Botts (10 June 2013).

Morgan Lewis chair Francis Milone said in a statement: “The scale of deal, project, development, and investment opportunities that our clients entertain in the Middle East is vast – and we’ve done well to meet those needs, utilising our global network of support. But we’ve been looking for the right, best-in-class talent to augment our services, and Ayman, Jim and Lewis are it.”