David Pfeiffer, the partner that Dentons has nicked from Bryan Cave to set up shop in Kuwait (see front page) says there was a host of reasons why he had virtually no competition when he was at Bryan Cave.
Being on Iraq’s doorstep helped. Then there’s the Kuwaiti investment and tax regime, which has reduced the potential for foreign direct investment and hence the need for foreign law firms.
As a result Kuwaitis have exported capital rather than investing in their own country, reducing the overall attractiveness of the market.
But just as crucial was the fact that “Kuwaitis have a long tradition of being talented negotiators. There’s a cultural bias that forces down rates and makes it prohibitive for sophisticated law firms.” Very diplomatically put, David.
So will Dentons have to ‘culturally adapt’ as it seeks to get in with the sheikhs? Not if Pfeiffer’s past record is anything to go by. “We were the most expensive firm in town,” he boasts.