DLA restructuring to dramatically scale back Gulf presence

The firm announced today that as of this month seventeen jobs would go from its network of Gulf offices, including seven lawyers and 10 support staff.

In addition to this 14 members of staff will be relocated back to the UK, while a number will also relocate to the firm’s Australian alliance partner DLA Phillips Fox. A further 11 members of staff have resigned.

When these factors are combined with two earlier rounds of redundancies it results in a year-on-year headcount drop of 39 per cent.

A spokesperson for the firm said that the fact that some employees would be heading over to the Australian firm was “an indication of how well the two businesses work together”.

Abdul Aziz Al-Yaqout, DLA Piper’s regional managing partner for the Middle East, said: “In response to materially changed conditions in the UAE and wider Middle East markets, DLA Piper announces a reorganisation of its Middle East practice for 2010.

“The firm will expand further its restructuring capability to meet corporate and banking client demands while simultaneously addressing the excess capacity in its construction, real estate, project finance and development projects teams.
“The impact of redundancies on our people is deeply regretted and we’re assisting them to manage the transition, whether remaining in the region or returning to their home locations.”

This comes shortly after news of a request by the Dubai government for a debt standstill and a restructuring of the wholly-owned government entity Dubai World (26 November 2009). Property development business Nakheel, which has been a major client of DLA Piper in the region, is particularly affected since part of the debt includes a $3.5bn (£2.1bn) bond Nakheel issued, redeemable on 14 December.

The latest developments at DLA Piper follow two rounds of job cuts earlier this year, which led to allegations of favouritism on the grounds of national origin (20 July 2009).

DLA Piper launched in the Middle East with a Dubai office in 2006, expanding rapidly to open offices in Abu Dhabi, Doha, Kuwait City, Muscat and Riyadh, recruiting from Australia, the UK, the New Zealand and the Gulf itself.