The Middle East's top law firms
CW outlines an unranked list of law firms in the region and how they have made an impact on construction stakeholders
UK’s London-headquartered global law firm HFW — formerly known as Holman Fenwick Willan — has a network of 600 lawyers working across its offices in Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia.
In the Middle East, the law firm operates through its offices in the UAE, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, with its Dubai office having opened in 2006.
Active in the construction, aviation, and shipping industries, as well as insurance, commodities, and energy sectors, HFW entered into an association with Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Al Khiliwi in 2019 to boost its Middle East presence.
In the construction sector, the law firm advises contractors, owners, consultants, and insurers alike, on procurement, risk management, and disputes.
Touted as one of the first international law firms to have established in the UAE, Pittsburgh-headquartered Reed Smith opened its office in Abu Dhabi in 1978.
Later in Dubai, the law firm opened its office at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) in 2006.
In 2018, in a push to expand its offering in the construction and projects sector, the firm appointed Sachin Kerur, Michelle Nelson, and Shourav Lahiri.
Kerur heads the law firm as the managing partner for the Middle East.
Reed Smith has provided counsel on projects in the real estate sector, including commercial, industrial and mixed-use developments, as well as for projects under public private partnerships (PPPs).
With its presence in the UK tracing back to 1769, London-headquartered international law firm Pinsent Masons has set up offices in the Middle East, Asia Pacific, Europe, Americas, and Africa.
Appointed in October 2019, Catherine Workman heads the company’s Middle East chapter. Pinsent Masons has advised clients on Dubai Electricity and Water Authority’s (DEWA) 900MW Phase 4 of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in the UAE.
Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia, where it operates in association with AlSabhan & AlAjaji, it has advised on the Haramain High Speed Railway Project on various aspects including the implementation of the project’s contracting and construction management.
Addleshaw Goddard was founded in 2003, following the merger of Addleshaw Booth & Co and Theodore Goddard, with the law firm’s presence dating back to 1775.
Andrew Johnston was appointed as the regional head of the GCC chapter at Addleshaw Goddard in 2018. In the GCC, the law firm has advised companies including Al Turki Enterprises, Arabtec Construction, Bahwan Engineering, Dubai Roads and Transport Authority, McLaren Construction, WSP, Target Engineering, among others in the construction sector.
Some of Addleshaw Goddard’s projects include Bahrain International Airport, Barakah Nuclear Power Plant, Mall of Muscat, as well as King Abdullah Economic City in Saudi Arabia.
Fenwick Elliott, termed as the largest construction and energy law firm in the UK, provides legal services for construction, engineering, and energy projects across the world.
Late last year, Fenwick Elliott inked a strategic alliance with Saudi Arabian law firm Hammad & Al-Mehdar.
The alliance comes as a part of the firm's plan to expand its footprint across the Middle East, with the team focusing on construction and energy law matters in the kingdom.
In May 2019, the firm revealed plans to relaunch its Dubai office – located in the Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT) neighbourhood – as its global hub to strengthen its international presence.
The firm is led by Ahmed Ibrahim as the managing partner of the Middle East and Africa.
Al Tamini & co
Since opening its first office in Sharjah in January 1989 by chairman Essam Al Tamimi, Al Tamimi & Co — touted to be the largest law firm in the Middle East — has been operating through 17 offices across nine countries.
As part of its services in the construction and infrastructure sector, Al Tamimi & Co has advised government entities, developers, contractors, district cooling companies, as well as healthcare service providers.
These services range from advising on a long-term wastewater concession project to construction of a clinic, redrafting construction and consulting suite of contracts, acquisitions, in addition to claims and disputes for several infrastructure contracts.
Since launching in Dubai in 2001, BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates (BSA) has grown into an award-winning regional law firm.
The firm’s construction practice is led by its seasoned arbitration practitioners, Antonios Dimitracopoulos, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb) and Jonathan Brown, who have a combined experience of more than three decades in the region.
Its long-established reputation for arbitration within the construction industry, particularly amongst subcontractors, is coupled with strong arbitration advocacy and litigation capabilities.
BSA’s construction practice encompasses front- and back-end work as well as representation in the UAE Federal and DIFC litigation, providing an all-inclusive base from contract negotiation to award enforcement.
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner
Bryan Cave was first founded as King, Phillips & Stewart in St. Louis, Missouri.
In 2018, Bryan Cave merged with London-based Berwin Leighton Paisner to form Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP).
Established in the Middle East in 2009, BCLP has an office in Abu Dhabi in ADGM Square and in Dubai’s DIFC, where the company employs eight partners and 25 lawyers.
The law firm has worked alongside Aabar Investments, Abu Dhabi Ports Company, Al Tayer Group, DAMAC, Dubai Airports, and Dubai Multi Commodities Centre.
Additionally, BCLP has also advised GS E&C, Hyundai C&E, Majid Al Futtaim, Miral, Nakheel, Samsung E&C, Thales, and Tamouh Investments, among others.
Baker McKenzie is an international law firm headquartered in Chicago.
The firm has a presence across 46 countries, where it operates through 77 offices employing 12,080 employees, according to its August 2019 factsheet.
In the Middle East, the law firm has a presence in countries including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and Morocco.
Dubai-based Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla is a member of Baker McKenzie International and has been advising UAE and international arbitrations across various sectors including construction, finance, commerce, and maritime.
In Saudi Arabia, the company operates in an association with Abdulaziz A. Alajlan & Partners, with the associate being called Legal Advisors.
Hadef & Partners
Founded in 1980 by Dr. Hadef Al Dhaheri, who served as Minister of Justice from 2008-14, Hadef & Partners employs over 100 lawyers in its Abu Dhabi and Dubai offices.
In 2004, Hadef & Partners acted for the Government of Abu Dhabi in the reclassification of Saadiyat Island to set it up as a hub for cultural, touristic, and residential real estate projects.
The company has also worked on the refinancing of Shuweihat 2 independent water and power project (IWPP) in the UAE.
In addition it has also worked on the Fujairah 1 IWPP, where it was required to interface with the Fujairah authorities to get a substantial extention to register the security required by the financiers of the project.
Clyde & co
Following its establishment in 1933 by Richard Arthur Clyde in London, Clyde & Co has since then expanded across the globe, with 52 offices across the Americas, Africa, Asia Pacific, the UK and Europe, and the Middle East.
In the region, the firm has 45 partners and employs 400 staff.
Its services include advising on company structuring and governance, policy setting and licensing arrangements, procurement, technology and general commercial contracts.
Clyde & Co has advised Sorbonne University, Zayed University, and New York University in Abu Dhabi on the construction and operation and maintenance (O&M) contract provisions for public private partnership (PPP) projects.
King & Wood Mallesons (KWM)
Hong Kong-headquartered multinational law firm King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) formed in 2012, following the merger of King & Wood and Mallesons Stephen Jaques.
KWM has represented clients on litigation cases in Dubai, where its partners include Tim Taylor QC, Joanne Strain, and Daniel Xu.
Taylor has advised on the Meydan vs Arabtec case on a racecourse construction.
Meanwhile, Xu has represented a DIAC arbitration against a UAE developer regarding a large-scale residential development, with claims and counterclaims exceeding $200m (AED734.6m).
Strain has an expertise in the construction sector, and has acted for multiple developers in the Middle East.
UK's DWF was founded in 1977 by Jim Davies and Guy Wallis as a Liverpool-based law firm, specialising in real estate and licensing.
In 2007, DWF merged with Leeds-based Ricksons, becoming DWF LLP. Based in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), DWF established its Dubai office in 2015. The Dubai chapter advises on contentious and non-contentious construction matters, professional indemnity, and insurance work.
DWF made two senior appointments to its Dubai-based division in October 2019, naming Slava Kiryushin as partner and global head of energy, and Abdalla Eisa as senior associate for the dispute resolution practice.
The firm floated its shares on the London Stock Exchange in 2019.
Global law firm DLA Piper has a presence in more than 40 countries throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific.
In the Middle East, the firm has offices in Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. The firm advises on all aspects of the construction sector, including regulations, M&A, financing, projects, intellectual property, commercial agreements, political environment, construction, disputes, restructurings, investigations, and tax.
Some of the projects that it has advised on includes rail and highway infrastructure, including bridges, tunnels, depots, digital rail, and smart motorways. DLA Piper appointed Will Seivewright as a partner and head of corporate for the Middle East.
Hogan Lovells is an American-British law firm co-headquartered in London and Washington, with the company having formed with the merger of US-based Hogan & Hartson and UK-established Lovells in May 2010.
The law firm has acted for a Japanese contractor on a construction dispute regarding a water and power plant project in Algeria. Hogan Lovells has an office in Dubai and an associated office in Riyadh with ZS&R Law Firm.
In November 2018, Hogan Lovells advised Natixis, which acted as sole underwriter, initial mandated lead arranger, bookrunner, hedge provider, offshore security agent, and offshore account bank to the ACWA Power-led consortium on the financing of the 300MW Sakaka Solar IPP in Saudi Arabia.
UK-headquartered law firm, Dentons, was created in 2013 following a merger of Salans, Fraser Milner Casgrain (FMC), and SNR Denton.
In April 2020, Dentons advised Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power in reaching the financial closure of the $400m (OMR154m) on Oman’s 500MW Ibri 2 photovoltaic Independent Power Project (IPP).
Dentons’ finance team was led by Udayan Mukherjee, with assistance from counsel, Michelle Teng; senior associate, Carina Onzer; associate, Annabel Vince; and trainee, Asila Al Hinai.
The law firm has also advised Omani Authority for Partnership for Development (OAPFD) on the Oman Aviation Academy; and the Muscat National Development Company (ASAAS) on the acquisition of a 150ha plot of land in Barka, Oman.
Trowers & Hamlins
Trowers & Hamlins is an international law firm with over 150 partners and more than 900 people, located across the UK, Middle East, and Asia.
In Dubai, the law firm has been present since 1991, with its origin dating back to more than 230 years.
Meanhwile, in the GCC the company also has offices in Abu Dhabi, Oman, and Bahrain.
The firm’s team advising in the construction sector include specialists in residential and commercial development, engineering, asset management, and offsite and modern construction methods such as modular procurement.
In April 2020, Trowers & Hamlins appointed partner Matthew Showler to head its commercial dispute resolution team in Dubai.
Squire Patton Boggs
Squire Patton Boggs was formed in 2014 after the merger of Patton Boggs and Squire Sanders.
The law firm has a network of over 1,500 lawyers in 45 offices across 20 countries.
The firm has acted as legal advisers to the private office of HH Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan for more than 20 years.
In March 2018, Dubai finalised the $2.45bn, 17-year financing to complete the construction of Dubai Metro's Route 2020 extension project. Squire Patton Boggs completed the finance deal for the project on behalf of the Government of Dubai.
The firm expanded its Middle East presence with the appointment of Campbell Steedman, Shibeer Ahmed, and Christopher Skipper, to its financial services practice.
Founded in 1998 in Switzerland, Bonnard Lawson has a network of more than 50 lawyers working across its offices in Geneva, Lausanne, Nyon, Shanghai, Paris, Dubai, and Hong Kong.
Within its activities in the construction sector, the law firm advises and represents public and private companies, contractors, subcontractors, architects, engineers, and individuals.
Bonnard Lawson has three partners at its Dubai office, including Firas Adi, Anne-Caroline Albrecht, and Giovanni M. Rossi.
While Adi has drafted EPC and oil & gas contracts, Albrecht advises on local and international succession laws, and Rossi has worked in fields such as IT, construction, distribution, editing, and healthcare.