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Norton Rose’s head of banking has lashed out at his firm’s UK rivals after a series of raids decimated the firm’s presence in Dubai.
Following a disastrous week in which Ashurst poached the head of Norton Rose’s energy practice in the Middle East John Inglis and Herbert Smith secured the release of finance partners Nadim Khan and Zubair Mir, Stephen Parish hit back.
“One has to query whether the market’s big enough and now, with these new firms coming in and undercutting the current firms, who then have to do likewise, it means the law firms are pretty much cutting their own throats,” said Parish.
Norton Rose did not launch in Dubai until 2003, but has been in Bahrain since 1979. Recent Islamic finance deals the firm has acted on include a syndicated Islamic finance facility for Al Rajhi Bank.
A Dubai-based source said: “Historically Norton Rose was a great firm here, but now they seem to be fraying around the edges. There’s a lot of competition for good people and they don’t seem to have what’s necessary to keep them.”
Parish argued: “We’ll be staying in Dubai and I’m spending much of my time, in this respect, looking to expand our network, as I’d like to see an office in Saudi, but this again is a question of getting the best lawyers happy to work out of Saudi, which are few and far between.
“Dubai is saturated and there are only so many lawyers it can take. It’s a question of survival of the fittest. And I feel comfortable that Norton Rose has got a good book after our three and a half years there.”