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Vinson & Elkins is in discussions to open in Saudi Arabia, with an office launch mooted for the first quarter of 2010.
The US firm already has Gulf offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai but is looking to expand its presence into the region’s largest economy.
Vinson & Elkins Islamic finance partner Ayman Khaleq said: “We [already] have a solid Saudi practice and are looking to strengthen it. There’s a good chance we would look at making a serious assessment of having a Saudi office.”
The Saudi legal market is highly protected and international firms must sign up with a Saudi lawyer in order to open an office there. The US firm is believed to be talking with potential candidates with a view to establishing a tie-up.
With Dubai having stagnated and Saudi possessing enormous hydrocarbons wealth and growth potential, Saudi has become en vogue among the international legal community of late. Clyde & Co, Eversheds and Lovells all recently launched in the country.