Bakers seals merger with top UAE law firm Habib Al Mulla

Baker & McKenzie is merging with respected United Arab Emirates leader Habib Al Mulla & Company.

The merged firm, which will be known as Baker & McKenzie Habib Al Mulla in the UAE, will go live on 1 July. The tie-up is significant as the first merger of a global law firm with a UAE independent.

The new firm will be jointly led by Habib Al Mulla as chairman and co-managing partner, along with Borys Dackiw, Bakers’ managing partner in the Gulf region.

Forty-lawyer Habib Al Mulla, which has offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, was founded in 1984 by executive chairman Habib Al Mulla.

Following the merger, Bakers will boast 73 offices in 45 countries. It already has a number of bases in the Middle East and North Africa, including Riyadh, Cairo, Abu Dhabi and Doha.

Habib has advised international clients including HSBC, AXA Insurance, RSA and UTC as well as a range of major Middle Eastern clients such as the UAE Ministry of Interiors and the Dubai Real Estate Corporation in the past.

In 2011, the firm hired appointed former Clifford Chance Italy head and chief procurement officer Rob Morris as its chief executive.

In a statement, Al Mulla said: “The legal landscape in the UAE continues to become more sophisticated, as do client requirements. In line with our strategy for growth, the merger creates a unique law firm offering in the UAE, with extensive local capabilities, including court representation, together with global scale.”

Dackiw added: “We will be able to anchor our UAE practice around a firm with the quality and vision of Habib Al Mulla. We are pleased to have become the first global law firm to join forces with one of the leading UAE firms. Welcoming someone as prominent as Dr Habib Al Mulla as a partner at Baker & McKenzie, together with the firm’s 40-plus lawyers, demonstrates our commitment to investing in the finest local legal talent.”

Al Mulla was instrumental in the creation of the Financial Free Zones legal framework which led to the establishment of the Dubai International Financial Centre as the first Financial Free Zone in the UAE.

The deal comes after Eversheds in 2011 merged with Middle Eastern law consortium KSLG, handing the firm new bases in Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Dubai. The deal came after a six-year working relationship between Eversheds and KSLG.

Habib Al Mulla is among the nominees for Middle East Law Firm of the Year at the Corporate Counsel Middle East Awards 2013. Click here to view the full shortlist.