Shearman & Sterling is understood to be considering an Egyptian office launch as arbitration in the region continues to grow.
The US firm said it currently has 10 ongoing arbitrations for the Egyptian state and state-owned companies, all of which are handled from the firm’s Paris and London offices.
International arbitration head Emmanuel Gaillard is interviewing at associate level and is thought to be after at least two more Arabic speakers to service cases in the Gulf Region. Four associates have moved to London from the firm’s Paris office, where the department has 42 dedicated lawyers and 15 trainees.
Sources close to the firm have suggested that Shearman has started looking at options on the ground, though it is unclear whether an Egypt entrance would take the form of a deal with a local firm or an office opening.
As the Middle East becomes an increased area of focus for the department, Gaillard has also pinpointed London as a target for expansion.
“We aim to grow London to service the emerging markets,” Gaillard told The Lawyer last month. “[The ability to advise] on English law can be key for a successful pitch, alongside industry coverage and industry experts.”
Gaillard said London and the Middle East are the key areas of focus for growth, adding that the department is already strong in Latin America. He said that there are no immediate plans to focus in on China as competition in the region “can be based exclusively on price.”
Neither Gaillard nor Shearman would comment on a potential Egyptian office opening.
Last week Norton Rose Fulbright said it was considering plans to open in a number of new jurisdictions including Egypt (7 June 2013). Dentons and Trowers & Hamlins are currently the only international firms with their own office in Cairo. A number of firms have local associations, including Baker & McKenzie, Crowell & Moring and DLA Piper.