Bahrain humbug

Norton Rose claims it is still committed to kingdom as lawyers quit


Norton Rose claims its Middle East team is a ‘regional’ one in which no lawyers have formal bases. It is a hard line to believe, but this is how it has responded to the resignation of two of its lawyers in Bahrain.

The resignations leave the UK firm with just two lawyers based in Bahrain, with construction partner Joanne Emerson-Taqi and project finance senior associate Angela Croker remaining. Indeed, Norton Rose’s website referred to corporate of counsel Adrian Woodcock, who left recently, as “our senior corporate lawyer based in Bahrain”.

Fellow corporate of counsel Rayhana Kapadia-Sheikh left last month, with senior associate Mark Adams also no longer listed on the firm’s site. Another member of the Bahrain team, disputes of counsel Adam Vause, is based in Dubai.

Dubai partners such as banking lawyer Matthew Escritt and Islamic finance specialist Mohammed Paracha cover Bahrain from elsewhere, with one trend clear: lawyers are shifting from Bahrain to the rest of the Middle East.

Middle East disputes head Patrick Bourke admitted that Bahrain was now “rivalled” by Dubai, but argued that the firm is still committed to the Bahrain market and runs a “joined-up” Middle East team.

By contrast, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer lists three Bahrain-based lawyers (a partner, an associate and a principal consultant) on its website, while Trowers & Hamlins’ lists 15 lawyers and Baker & McKenzie’s lists 12.

Dubai may be pulling away from Bahrain as the place to be in the region, but not all firms see things the same way.