Norton Rose Fulbright appoints first ever Middle East corporate head

Norton Rose Fulbright partner David Baylis has become Norton Rose Fulbright’s first regional head of corporate, M&A and securities in the Middle East.

Baylis relocated to the region in in order to head up the firm’s Abu Dhabi office in June 2013. 

The firm currently has 12 corporate lawyers, including five partners, in the region. They are predominately based in its Abu Dhabi office, but also present in its Dubai, Bahrain and former Fulbright & Jaworski outpost in Riyadh. 

“There are two main challenges for our practice in the region at the moment,” said Baylis. “Raising our profile, and getting more critical mass.” 

He intends to bulk up partner numbers, both through lateral hires and organic growth within the firm. 

Baylis’ promotion to the role falls in line with the firm’s wider strategy of appointing regional practice heads. Kevin Cron heads up the practice in South Africa, while Vincent Dwyer runs the group in Australia.

He will work alongside the firm’s Middle East litigation head Patrick Bourke and banking and finance chief Mohammed Paracha.

Norton Rose Fulbright has experienced a few obstacles to its post-merger integration in the Middle East. In July, a large chunk of its regional operations – primarily former Fulbright staff – quit to join Baker Botts amid a rift between the legacy UK and US arms of the firm (16 July 2013).

The departing team consisted of 14 lawyers and eight partners from the firm’s Dubai and Riyadh offices. The Lawyer reported that there had been some discontent among Fulbright partners in the region, for reasons including culture and profitability. 

Baylis said: “We’re in a period of consolidation but integration is going very well indeed.”