The Middle East has recently been ticking all the boxes as the location-of-choice for corporate lawyers seeking exposure across high-value, global transactions.
We explore just some of the considerations and accountabilities these lawyers face when looking to practice in the region.
The Middle East is becoming a hot spot for commercial lawyers who want to be at the heart of high-value, cross-border transactions, as gross domestic product continues to grow and Europe continues to face economic struggles. Opportunities are similarly increasing as business continue to invest in areas such as Qatar and Dubai due to their favourable tax structures and regulation levels when compared to other global investment centres.
Corporate lawyers in the Middle East, as in any other part of the world, are generally defined by their specialist understanding of business and company law. Importantly, they are responsible for ensuring that the business transactions of their clients are structured and executed within the bounds of the law, while meeting the commercial goals of the business.
To that end, corporate lawyers are required to have a thorough understanding of their client’s businesses as well as the differences between varying legal entities and how to best utilise these across varying operations. Corporate lawyers also often specialise in legal transactions pertaining to mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property law, restructuring and bankruptcy law.
Corporate lawyers are required to have a thorough understanding of their client’s businesses as well as the differences between varying legal entities and how to best utilise these across varying operations
As a corporate lawyer in the Middle East, you will typically find yourself advising a diverse client base which may include sovereign wealth funds, governments, multinationals, investment banks and private equity firms. Whether it be advising on headline transactions such as the Qatar 2022 world cup bid or the launch of Abu Dhabi’s new financial free zone (the Abu Dhabi Global Market), the quality of work for a corporate lawyer in the region is high.
Within the Middle East, there is a notable demand for corporate lawyers, however, the primary difference across the type of lawyer required will be associated with the relative size of transaction they are working on. As the value and size increases, so does the relative complexity and risk associated with the role. In this situation, larger firms are more often preferred as they hold specialist teams who specialise on transactions of this nature.
As investment increases, we have witnessed a notable surge of international law firms entering the market. The increasing presence of magic circle, white shoe and other international law firms in cities such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Riyadh and Jeddah have been particular evidence of this and we expect this to nurture and drive legal recruitment within the Middle East for quite some time.
First and foremost, corporate lawyers need not only a strong understanding of business but a thorough understanding of how each transaction fits context of the target business as a whole. Secondly - and arguably the most important skill is an intermit understanding of company law. In addition to this, you will find that corporate lawyers are typically skilled at drafting as well as being able to include and remove clauses from contracts to best suit the requirements of the client.
Corporate lawyers will generally find a broad range of opportunities available to them, given their relative exposure across commercial transactions as well as holding experience and understanding across many areas of the law.
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