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Eversheds has opened a base in Erbil in an expansion of the firm’s Iraq presence following its merger with Middle East law consortium KSLG in 2011.
A team had been serving the increasing demand in semi-autonomous Kurdistan from Eversheds’ Baghdad office, which was acquired alongside Amman, Dubai and Riyadh in the KSLG deal (May 25 2011). The firm already has bases in Abu Dhabi and Doha.
The Erbil office will be run by Eversheds’ Iraq managing partner Tawfiq Tabbaa, alongside two local lawyers who will relocate from Baghdad.
Eversheds Iraq practice is overseen by Middle East managing partner Nasser Ali Khasawneh and consists of eight lawyers, including Tabbaa, some of whom will work across the two locations.
Tabbaa said the majority of demand for lawyers in the region is from oil services companies, telcos, construction companies and the firm’s financial services clients.
He said the firm would "see what the balance is between Baghdad and Erbil” before making any decisions about adding to the team but emphasised the importance of hiring local lawyers with a thorough understanding of law in the region as well as international experience.
“In terms of lifestyle, Erbil is more appealing than Baghdad, it’s more secure and safer but finding good Iraqi lawyers with experience with international clients is difficult – we look for those that have left to work in international firms outside the region and get them to relocate back”, he added.
Earlier this month, Eversheds launched a new pan-African strategy which will see the firm move back into South Africa and launch offices in Ghana, Kenya, Morocco and Tunisia (1 October 2013).
Tabbaa said that an opening in Libya was also in the pipeline but would not be possible until security was increased in the country.
Meanwhile, Middle Eastern firm Al Tamimi & Company has also moved into Erbil, opening a new office earlier this month, following its launch in Baghdad eight years ago (1 October 2013).