Dewey exodus continues as Dubai team and London partner duo join Dechert

Dewey & LeBoeuf is set to lose a five-partner Dubai team to US rival Dechert alongside the exit of two high-profile City capital markets partners.

The Dubai office is led by corporate partner duo Gavin Watson and Chris Sioufi, with the pair leaving for Dechert alongside eight associates and well-known London capital markets partner Camille Abousleiman.

Abousleiman (pictured), one of Dewey’s most high-profile partners in London, will be joined at Dechert by fellow City capital markets partner Louise Roman Bernstein.

Dechert, which currently does not have a presence in the United Arab Emirates, has handled work for Middle East clients in the past but has been looking for a team to launch an office on the ground. The firm is also simultaneously launching in Georgia with the hire of Dewey local corporate partner Nicola Mariani, who splits his time between Paris and Tiblisi.

Dewey has an additional UAE base in Abu Dhabi, which is understood to be in talks with a number of US firms with a view to breaking off from the firm in the coming weeks.

Abousleiman’s practice focuses on corporate finance and international capital markets. Major work he has handled in recent years include a number of Middle East-related deals including a $1.3bn (£907m) cross-border mining deal for Indian mining group Vedanta Resources in 2010, as well as a $600m (£390m) eurobond by the National Bank of Egypt the same year.

Abousleiman and Bernstein also headed up a team from the firm advising the banks on a $2.4bn (£1.7bn) issuance of new bonds by the Lebanese Republic in 2009.

Meanwhile, Watson and Sioufi joined Dewey in January 2008 from US rival Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld to head up the firm’s Dubai launch.

The latest exits from Dewey come shortly after the firm lost its London private equity team to McDermott Will & Emery, less than a year after hiring a partner duo from Taylor Wessing to launch the practice.

The firm launched the dedicated private equity team last summer with the hire of Taylor Wessing’s private equity head Mark Davis and fellow partner Russell Van Praagh.

The Am Law Daily also reports today (17 May) that Michael Klein, an administrative law partner in Washington DC, has moved to US firm Cozen O’Connor.

The most recent exits take the total number of partner departures so far this year to more than 60, with the news coming after Legal Week reported that Dewey is set to defer a portion of its partners’ compensation for as long as 10 years as part of a ‘financial incentives plan’ designed in an effort to keep people at the firm.

The firm’s newly created five-member executive body is in the process of finalising the plan, which has come in response to strains on the 1,000-lawyer firm’s finances caused in part by pay guarantees handed out to star partners and the continued stream of departures.

Click here for a Dealmaker interview with Abousleiman.