Latham seals Saudi launch via link-up with former White & Case ally

Latham & Watkins has officially launched in Saudi Arabia via an association with the Law Office of Mohammed Al-Sheikh in Riyadh.

As previously reported by Legal Week, Al-Sheikh split from previous alliance firm White & Case earlier this year when Latham recruited a total of 13 partners from the US rival’s London and Middle East practices.

The Saudi presence will be the fourth office for Latham in the region, which it first entered in January 2008 through an ambitious three-office launch in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha.

The firm has taken its time to bulk up its presence, but following the hire of a total of five Middle East partners – including Al-Sheikh – from White & Case in January, Latham now has around 50 lawyers in the region.

The January hires included Doha corporate partner Andrew Macklin, who had launched White & Case’s Qatar base only last year, as well as Middle East corporate partner Villiers Terblanche, energy and infrastructure partner Nick Collins and projects partner Christopher Langdon – the latter who is also based in Riyadh alongside Al-Sheik.

Commenting on the Saudi launch, Latham chairman Robert Dell said: “The Middle East is one of the most dynamic regions in the world economy and we remain committed to developing our presence in the region as a key focus of our global growth strategy. We expect to see continued inbound and outbound activity that demands sophisticated legal counsel and our presence in Riyadh will significantly bolster our regional capability.”

Firms to have entered Saudi Arabia through alliances in the last year include Lovells, which tied up with local law firm Al-Yaqoub Attorneys & Legal Advisers in April 2009, the same month in which Eversheds sealed an alliance with 20-lawyer Saudi firm Hani Qurashi.

The news comes after magic circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer last month enhanced its Saudi presence by entering an exclusive alliance with its existing non-exclusive ally Salah Al-Hejailan.

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