Eastern magic

Following on from the prospect of redundancies at the magic circle, City-based Middle East recruiters I spoke with this week are being inundated with CVs from fee-earners at the big four, looking to move out to the Middle East.


Eastern magicAs large-scale redundancies hit the magic circle, Middle East recruiters I spoke with this week are being inundated with CVs from fee-earners at the big four who are looking to move out to the region.

One said: “I’m getting CVs from magic circle firms by the dozen, I recently had ones from CC and A&O in London and from CC in Moscow.”

Another has had fee-earners in Linklaters and A&O in Hong Kong beating a path to his door.

But the recruiters, not normally ones to talk down the Gulf, say that they are struggling to find work for candidates.

The speed with which the situation has changed is remarkable. Only six months ago, as the UK and US economies slowed, entire teams at firms including CC, Latham & Watkins and Linklaters were heading out to the Gulf in their masses – all following the money (see story).

While mid-market players from Clyde & Co. to Pinsent Masons were engaged in ambitious external recruitment drives of their own (see story).

Fast-forward to the start of 2009 and few international firms in the Gulf are on a hiring spree. In fact, I hear that several are applying salary freezes and there’s even talk of redundancies being imminent. Unsurprisingly, candidates’ objectives are changing correspondingly.

“People are becoming so desperate they are considering Saudi – its no longer a hardship posting,” said one hirer.

With news that Linklaters could get rid of 70 partners and 10 per cent of its associates – the irony is that lawyers at the one magic circle conspicuously absent from Riyadh could soon find themselves making the best of a Saudi sojourn (23 January 2009).