Clyde & Co forced to scale down Iraq plans

Hostilities in Iraq have forced Clyde & Co lawyers to put their strategy on hold since it established its groundbreaking association with Baghdad firm Numan Shakir Numan in June.
Because of the perceived threats to Western interests, the firm’s three lawyers specialising in the region have had to convene meetings on Iraq-related matters on ‘neutral soil’ in Jordan and Dubai.
Paul Turner, the Clydes partner who heads the firm’s Iraq team, told The Lawyer: “There’s no one physically on the ground as it is perceived to be too dangerous to be working there.”
The decision will come as a disappointment to Clyde & Co, which has made something of a speciality in opening for business in war-torn regions; after the Yugoslav conflict it opened in Belgrade.
Turner, who spent several years in Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s regime building up a client base, works alongside Iraqi-qualified lawyer Zainab Al-Qirnawi. However, the firm is pressing ahead with more investment in the region as it hires another lawyer with experience of Iraq in the next few weeks.
The investment reflects the volume of work Clydes is handling through meetings with clients in the Middle East, but outside Iraq. This has included acting for shipping companies in relation to accessibility of the southern port of Umm Qasr for goods deliveries, working on trademark applications, obtaining land rights in Basra, and arranging for leases on properties for news agencies and security agencies.
It has also investigated Iraqi regulations governing the tobacco, telecoms, banking and oil sectors.