Baker & McKenzie plans expansion into DIFC

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  • Almost all (if not all) of the law firms operating in the DIFC have an onshore license. Its not either / or - as far as where a firm is licensed to operate - but rather where it chooses to have its offices. Rents in DIFC are higher than elsewhere in Dubai, but its a well located located hub for banks who do benefit from its status as a financial free zone, and the law firms like living next door to the banks.

    The employment laws are different also - with better employee protection, more generous end of service benefits and a small claims court. Law firms are allowed to be 100% foreign owned wherever they operate - and as such, this is not a particular advantage of operating in the DIFC.

    BAM HAM are probably trying to demonstrate that they are an international firm - having taken on a firm that was very local in nature (Dr Habib being well regarded). Lots of banks are there - and there is a lot of competition for banking work already. Being in DIFC won't improve the chances of getting banking work - its not a prerequisite. However, having strong, highly experienced transactional banking lawyers who are English qualified is.

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