Linklaters follows magic circle pack with plans for Abu Dhabi opening

<a class=Linklaters follows magic circle pack with plans for Abu Dhabi opening” />Linklaters is developing plans to launch an office in Abu Dhabi in response to client demands.

The magic circle firm’s Emerging Europe, Middle East and North Africa (Eemena) head Nick Eastwell confirmed that an Abu Dhabi office was part of ­Linklaters’ plan for the United Arab Emirates.

“It’s quite far off though, as we haven’t put in an application yet,” explained Eastwell. “I’m hoping we can get an application in over the next few months.”
Eastwell said Linklaters had decided to open in Abu Dhabi in response to the needs of clients and the region.

“It’s pretty well-known that Abu Dhabi is keen to see that its advisers, be they lawyers or bankers, are on the ground there. We’ve talked to our clients and the feeling is that we need to be in Abu Dhabi,” he added. “In terms of timing and the size of the office, at this stage it will be crystal-ball gazing.”

Linklaters is the last of the magic circle firms to commit to Abu Dhabi. Allen & Overy was the first to launch a presence in the region, opening its Abu Dhabi office in 2007. But it only created the role of Abu Dhabi managing ­partner in April this year, appointing ; ;Ibrahim ­Mubaydeen (The Lawyer, 28 April).

Clifford Chance and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer both launched their offices in August this year.

Abu Dhabi is not the only Middle East region where Linklaters is falling behind its magic circle peers: it is the only one not to have opened in Riyadh.

As reported by The Lawyer (8 September), Eastwell believes that the lack of a presence in Riyadh has not been a major ­disadvantage for the firm. But he admitted Linklaters may need to reassess its position in the future.

“I won’t be surprised if not having a presence becomes an issue event­ually,” he said.

Linklaters is upgrading its operations in Dubai by sending in London banking partner James Martin to the region following a raid by Latham & Watkins for banking partner Tim Ross.

Eastwell said Linklaters’ Dubai office was growing, with the addition of 18 lawyers over the course of this year.


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