Dewey & LeBoeuf raids Akin Gump to secure Dubai base

Dewey & LeBoeuf has raided the Dubai office of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld for its first launch since last October’s merger between Dewey Ballantine and LeBoeuf Lamb Greene & MacRae.

The firm has launched a Dubai office under partners Gavin Watson and Chris Sioufi, Akin Gump’s only partners in the emirate, with the intention of attracting at least some of their team of associates. Dewey & LeBoeuf London-based partner Federico Salinas, who joined LeBoeuf from Baker & McKenzie last May, will relocate to Dubai in the coming weeks.

Dewey & LeBoeuf chairman Steve Davis said the intention is to grow the office fairly substantially within the next 12 to 18 months.

“We are targeting an office of 15 to 20 lawyers, who will be doing capital markets work,” he said. “Dubai has really made itself like the Hong Kong or Singapore of the Middle East in the sense of being a real hub city. The country itself is not large but it’s a jumping off point for doing work throughout the region.”

The office is to operate as an extension of the firm’s existing Riyadh offering, which comes from the legacy LeBoeuf side of the merger and is headed by Khalid Al-Thebity.

Akin Gump’s Dubai office will close by 21st January with the firm looking to relocate to Abu Dhabi once it has received its licence. A spokeswoman for the firm said at this stage it is not known how many associates will move across to Dewey, adding that those who remain with the firm will move to the Abu Dhabi office.

Partners in the firm’s US offices will service clients in the region in the interim period.