Categories:Middle East

Trowers down to one associate in Saudi office

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  • Trowers is a firm that has always punched above its weight in the Middle East. But since 2008 when things got tough, they have stood still, while more recent arrivals have invaded their turf and stolen marches with their ailing, longstanding clients by dramatically undercutting them on price whilst offering greater international reach and depth (not to mention quality).

    Loyalty counts for less in tight markets; Trowers have found this out the hard way and lost work to competitors playing a long game. Sure, these new arrivals will barely break even in the short term but they will have had a chance to show clients what they can do, added to their regional track record and cemented their reputation. It may now be very difficult for Trowers to get back in with their old chums and Mutawi has uphill struggle on his hands.

    They need a big shake-up in personnel; clear out the deadwood, improve the salary structure and attract a handful of star senior associates & junior partners to inject some fresh impetus into the place.

    While they do still have a handful of very good people in Bahrain, UAE and Oman, it is hard to see them hanging on to them at this rate.

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  • A truly fascinating article.

    The Saudi office was bound to fail and T&H is probably better off without it. It was set up on the cheap, lacked a partner presence and was never seriously engaged by Amison, the so-called head of the international department. Amison's endless reference to Saudi projects sums up his knowledge of the Saudi operation, which was entirely a third-tier corporate/commercial practice.

    More interesting is Amison's current position. The gossip around London is that there was a vote at a T&H management committee meeting in March in favour of closing the office. It would have been a shock to some of those on the committee to even learn that there was a Saudi office.

    Presumably the only reason that the committee's decision has not been implemented in full is fear of more bad publicity. The Jeddah closure seems to have started a chorus of disapproval about the management and direction of the firm that the management at T&H cannot silence.

    The result is a complete farce. The Saudi office exists on paper but receives no instructions from T&H. Saudi work is being done by the silos in Bahrain, Dubai and London with no co-ordination whatsoever. Mutawi may be able to bring Bahrain and Dubai together, but he has no brief for London.

    I say good luck to them. The real problems at T&H appear to be centred around a lack of energy and clear focused strategy at ownership level. It is time to go for a number of the more senior players and the sooner that Adlington and Amison in particular move on the better.

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  • The secret behind successful international law firms in Saudi? Being associated with an already "successful" .... "Saudi" lawyers.

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  • I don't think that is true at all.

    The most successful firms in the current set-up are those which are either between an international firm and an ambitious Saudi or those with a silent Saudi.

    The terms demanded by a "successful" Saudi are often far too one-sided to allow the venture to grow on the ground in the Kingdom.

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  • Watch this space :)

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  • Yes, here is some difficult mathematics for Amison:

    1-1=?

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  • This is not the first time, and it won't be the last, that associations between international and local Saudi law firms have split up. Expectations from each side don't seem to match: International firms are looking for quality local input (which hardly any local lawyer can provide) and local firms (or rather their principals) simply want to cash in by acting as broker to bring in work, but are not suitably qualified to do such work themselves. In addition, most local clients (incl. global corporate players) hardly pay the level of fees typically charged by top tier international firms. Thus, it is time that international firms are allowed to set up shop in KSA on their, ie. without the need to have a local sponsor. This should also incentivise international firms to train local lawyers to international standards.
    Of course, there are other (serious) obstacles to make KSA an attractive proposition for internationally qualified lawyers, but that is a separate matter...

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  • "This should also incentivise international firms to train local lawyers to international standards."
    Do let me know how you get on with this winning idea.

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