Latham to close Abu Dhabi and Doha offices

Latham & Watkins is to close its Abu Dhabi and Doha offices by the end of the year, leaving the US giant with two offices in the Middle East.

The US firm confirmed to Legal Week that its Doha office will close by June, with the Abu Dhabi base due to close by the end of the year.

All 13 lawyers across the two offices have been invited to move to the firm’s Dubai office and the firm said there would be no lawyer redundancies as a result of the closures. Discussions about the closures with support staff are ongoing. Latham’s website currently lists 13 lawyers in Dubai and a further eight in Riyadh.

News of the exits comes after a recent management review of Latham’s Middle East activity concluded that its regional practice could be run out of its remaining offices in Dubai and Riyadh.

Latham chair and managing partner Bill Voge said the firm was still “deeply committed” to the Middle East market, which he said was a “key strategic market for the firm” that it had been in for “more than two decades”.

He said: “We have always operated a regional model in the Middle East, which has allowed us to draw on a deep bench of lawyers with significant experience in the region.

“As the market has matured, it has become clear that we can continue to serve our clients effectively from a consolidated United Arab Emirates practice in Dubai and our office in Riyadh, with our practice in London, Paris, Frankfurt, New York, Hong Kong and other financial centers around the world.”

Villiers Terblanche, the managing partner of the firm’s Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha offices, said: “We have a broad practice and diverse client base in the Middle East. By consolidating our practice in the region, we will further strengthen our high value corporate, finance and regulatory practices.”

Latham announced plans for a three office Middle East launch in 2008, opening in Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi. It subsequently opened in Riyadh in 2010. 

Latham’s move comes after US rival Holland & Knight announced plans last summer to pull out of the Middle East and instead concentrate on the Americas.