Dewey to restructure Middle East practice after stream of exits

Dewey & LeBoeuf has kicked off a restructuring of its Middle East operations that could result in the closure of the firm’s Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha offices.

Confirmation of the restructuring, which is being led by the managing partner of Dewey’s Riyadh base, Khalid Al-Thebity, comes after a 12-lawyer walkout from the firm’s Dubai office to Dechert earlier this week.

The departures leave Dewey with just local partner Peter Gray and associate Andrew Gibson in Dubai, with corporate finance partner Stephen Jurgenson and associate Martin Skehill in the firm’s Abu Dhabi office.

The firm claims that its Doha base has one remaining associate – Claire Bechara – following the departure of local managing partner Kenneth Freeling to K&L Gates last year.

The recent exits saw Dubai corporate partners Gavin Watson and Chris Sioufi, local partners Samer Amro, Christian Harran and John Podgore and eight associates leave for Dechert, along with London capital markets partners Camille Abousleiman and Louise Roman Bernstein.

Dewey’s newly formed office of the chairman said: “The recent departures from the Gulf region will not have a material impact on the firm’s bottom-line or its business in the Middle East. Khalid, who is managing the Riyadh office, will work closely with partners in other offices to serve the clients and to restructure the firm’s operations in the Gulf region.”

Al-Thebity added: “These departures are in line with our plans to restructure our operations in the Gulf region. We believe that they will not have an impact overall and will not affect our ability to serve our clients in the region.”

The firm has recently won a new instruction to advise the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Electricity and Co-Generation Regulatory Authority on the drafting of new consumer care regulations to protect the rights of service providers.

News of the Middle East restructuring comes as some of Dewey’s other international offices look set to see a spate of partner departures. The firm’s Russian arm is understood to be in talks with a number of US firms including King & Spalding, Baker Botts and White & Case.