White & Case makes tracks for Bahrain

White & Case is setting up an association with a Middle Eastern law firm after winning a licence to practice in Bahrain.

It is linking with an eponymous practice run by Qays Zu’bi which has an excellent reputation in the Gulf state and sources say that he will be bringing a lot of goodwill to the US firm.

To comply with bar rules, the office will be named White & Case in association with Qays Zu’bi. The licence will cost the firm up to £5,000 a year.

Peter Finlay, head of White & Case’s Europe and Middle East & Africa practice, says: “This is a significant commitment to the region and enhances our service to existing clients in Bahrain. It is important to have lawyers on the ground in the Gulf.”

White & Case has 12 lawyers based in Middle Eastern offices in Riyadh and Jeddah. It is understood the new office will house four lawyers, including an existing White & Case lawyer plus recruits. Zu’bi will become a White & Case partner.

A White & Case spokeswoman says the office should be fully operational by the end of March. “The focus is going to be on banking, corporate, infrastructure and finance in the Gulf region,” she adds.

Bahrain is a regional finance centre, an attraction for some law firms. Trowers & Hamlins and Norton Rose have offices in the state and Baker & McKenzie opened there last year.

Ian Siddell, Baker & McKenzie’s resident partner in Bahrain, says: “Clifford Chance pulling out a few years ago certainly left a void for quality legal services.”