Dewey & LeBoeuf closes Charlotte, grows Mid East

Dewey & LeBoeuf closes Charlotte, grows Mid EastDewey & LeBoeuf has announced the closure of its Charlotte office just as it plans to open two new bases in the Middle East.

The 11-lawyer Charlotte office, which has suffered due to economic conditions, is set to close on 31 December. Earier this year the firm announced that it would close its offices in Austin, Hartford and Jacksonville as part of a move to focus on major capital markets (11 April).

In a statement released by the US firm, a spokesperson highlighted the changing market landscape and “the consolidation of several major banking institutions and a challenging structured finance market” as the reason for the North Carolina office closure.

The North Carolina banking market has seen dramatic developments in recent months with Bank of America purchasing Merrill Lynch last month and Wells Fargo acquiring North Carolina headquartered bank Wachovia.

In the Middle East the firm, which opened in Dubai earlier this year after poaching a team from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld (4 Jan), plans to launch in Abu Dhabi and Qatar by eary next year.

Washington DC partner Kenneth Freeling and London partner Stephen Jurgenson will relocate to Qatar and Abu Dhabi respectively for the launches.

Firmwide chairman Steve Davis said: “The emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, plus Qatar and Saudi Arabia, are at the forefront of some of the world’s most important inward and outward investment opportunities today. We already act for some of the most exciting clients in the region and view these investments as part of the firm’s on-going commitment to represent clients across the world’s commercial centres.”

The firm plans to relocate additional partners and associates to the new offices as well as hire laterally in the region.

The Middle Eastern practice will focus on construction, corporate, finance, project finance, private equity, infrastructure and real estate.

As part of its emerging markets strategy the firm has relocated New York partner Peter Baumgaertner and London partner Scott Brodsky to the firm’s Johannesburg office to focus on building up its project finance, infrastructure and natural resources expertise in the region.

The firm’s Jacksonville and Austin offices will close at the end of December this year while Hartford will close in February 2009.