Bakers relocates two partners to Abu Dhabi

Baker & McKenzie has relocated two more partners to Abu Dhabi as it seeks to build its fledgling office in the jurisdiction.

Former joint head of the North America Middle East practice and corporate partner Tom Thraya has moved out to the Gulf region together with London-based corporate partner James Reed.

Arabic-speaking Thraya has worked on a number of regional deals including the joint venture between Mubadala and Chicago-based real estate management company John Buck company and also advised Abraaj Capital on a major Dubai acquisition. Reed will add to the corporate and energy, mining and infrastructure capability.

Bakers’ Abu Dhabi office opened in February 2009 with the relocation of Prague-based partner Borys Dackiw (30 October 2008) and has five lawyers on the ground.

Thraya said: “We’re coming a little bit late to the game in the UAE. It’s a very crowded space, but we have a large regional practice.”

Baker & McKenzie has had a presence in the Middle East for some time, having set up an office in Riyadh in the mid-1970s.

The firm is looking to bulk up Abu Dhabi with a further two or three lawyers by October – to coincide with the end of Ramadan, according to Thraya. He said that any future recruits would most likely be hires from the local market rather than relocations.

“We don’t want to be colonial, our practice marries local law with multinational and multijurisdictional law,” he commented.