Clifford Chance boosts Middle East coverage with Qatar opening

Clifford Chance is set to open an office in Qatar as the magic circle firm continues to expand its Middle East capabilities.

The office in the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) will be fronted by finance partner Richard Parris, who is currently based in Dubai, and counsel Greg Englefield. The office, which will open as soon as the firm receives licence approval, will initially consist of around half a dozen lawyers.

Gulf managing partner Graham Lovett told The Lawyer that the office could expand to include, “20 to 25 lawyers over the next three to four years, although we have to start from a realistic level”.

The office will focus inititally on finance, projects and the capital markets, with some scope for corporate work.

Last December’s award of the 2022 World Cup to the Emirate is likely to result in a slew of work, particularly in the infrastructure space.

Parris said: “This decision is a significant step forward for the strategy of the firm and our ability to help our clients with their Qatar-related business opportunities. The subsequent award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar will hopefully present even further opportunities in this regard.”

Lovett added: “I think there’s a difference emerging between ourselves and our competitors in what we think of the Middle East. We are very bullish about it as a jurisdiction.”

Last year, in a surprise move, Clifford Chance sent M&A rainmaker Guy Norman to Dubai to strengthen its corporate offering in the region.

Firmwide managing partner David Childs said: “The Middle East plays an important role in the firm’s international network. We have a longstanding presence in the region and have continued to make important strategic investments in our capabilities.  

It’s clear to us that there is a great deal of dynamism in Qatar and across the region generally and we’re proud to be playing an active role in supporting further development and growth in these increasingly important financial centres.”

The firm’s Dubai office first opened in 1975. It has since set up in Abu Dhabi and entered in a cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabian firm Al-Jadaan and Partners.