Clifford Chance’s new office in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, will open with three partners and eight associates.
Dubai-based banking and finance partner Richard Ernest will lead the office, accompanied by real estate partner Peter Deegan, who will relocate from Warsaw, and capital markets partner Chris Walsh, who will relocate from London.
Managing Partner for the Gulf region Graham Lovett said: “We aim to provide a full service offering to Abu Dhabi in the same way that the Dubai office provides a full service to the region.”
The partners will be joined by eight associates from the finance, real estate, capital markets and corporate teams. The office will open its doors on 3 August.
Lovett said that he expects a corporate partner to join the Abu Dhabi team by the second part of this financial year and that the total lawyer headcount in the office would increase to around 15 by the end of the year.
The office, plans for which were first revealed in February (TheLawyer.com,2 February), is to grow to 20 to 30 lawyers in the next two to three years. Clifford Chance’s Dubai office currently numbers 74 lawyers.
Transferees to Abu Dhabi will receive gross salaries to benefit from zero income tax in the region as “a reflection of the importance the firm attaches to the office,” Lovett said.