Clifford Chance, Hadef and PepsiCo among those to triumph at Middle East awards

Clifford Chance (CC), Hadef & Partners and PepsiCo were among the major winners at the fifth annual Corporate Counsel Middle East awards, which were held in Dubai last night (12 May).

CC was named International Law Firm of the Year at the awards, which celebrate the achievements of the Middle East’s in-house lawyers, law firms, legal teams and individuals, while Hadef & Partners was this year’s Middle East Law Firm of the Year – Large Practice.

Dean Sheehan, vice-president and general counsel for Middle East and Africa at PepsiCo, who heads a 20-lawyer legal department, won the hotly contested General Counsel of the Year award, while the Dubai government’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing won the Legal Department of the Year – Large Team category.middle-east-awards-table

The awards were jointly hosted by Legal Week and the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) Middle East group and were attended by 350 private practice and in-house lawyers from the region.

It was a good night for international law firms with offices in the Middle East: Clyde & Co won Dispute Resolution Team of the Year, for its work on a hard-fought cross-border arbitration; Baker & McKenzie, which advised on the reform of maritime law in the UAE, scooped Regulatory and Investigations Team of the Year; and Allen & Overy picked up two major awards – Banking and Finance Team of the Year and Construction Team of the Year.

Dentons (TMT), Shearman & Sterling (infrastructure and energy projects), and Trowers & Hamlins (real estate) won team awards, while Dentons also picked up CSR Team of the Year for its programme to provide free legal advice to Syrian refugees, a project that involved lawyers from its Abu Dhabi, Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Doha, Dubai, Istanbul, Muscat and Riyadh offices.

However, United Arab Emirates firm Galadari overcame competition from a host of international firms to walk away with Corporate Team of the Year.

Other winners included specialist Qatar-based real estate investment group The First Investor, whose in-house lawyers won Legal Department of the Year – Small Team; and Nicola Packer, of Flash Entertainment, who was named Legal Counsel of the Year.

The award for Middle East Law firm of the Year – Small Practice went to Dubai firm KBH Kaanuun.middle-east-awards-2016

The evening culminated in the announcement of the ACC Middle East Achievement Award, which went to Doha-based Al Ansari & Associates for its pro bono programme.

The judging panel for the awards was chaired by ACC Middle East president Elias Hayek, vice-president, legal, of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Judges included Cherine Ghali, general counsel of Dubai Group, Harold Koster, director of the University of Dubai’s College of Law, and Duncan Wood, senior legal officer in the government of Dubai’s Legal Affairs Department.

Hayek said: “The intensity of the competition was reflected by the comments of the judges, who were impressed by the high quality of the entries and in some cases found it almost impossible to single out a winner.”

The winners in full:

Association of Corporate Counsel Middle East Achievement Award
Al Ansari & Associates

General Counsel of the Year
Highly commended: Ayman Hamdy, Emaar Properties
Winner: Dean Sheehan, PepsiCo

Legal Department of the Year – Large Team
Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing, Government of Dubai

Legal Department of the Year – Small Team
The First Investor

In-house Innovation Award
The Academy of Law

Legal Counsel of the Year
Highly commended: David Johnson, First Gulf Bank
Winner: Nicola Packer, Flash Entertainment

International Law Firm of the Year
Clifford Chance

Middle East Law Firm of the Year – Large Practice
Hadef & Partners

Middle East Law Firm of the Year – Small Practice
KBH Kaanuun

Banking and Finance Team of the Year
Allen & Overy

Infrastructure and Energy Projects Team of the Year
Shearman & Sterling

Construction Team of the Year
Allen & Overy

Real Estate Team of the Year
Trowers & Hamlins

Corporate Team of the Year
Galadari

Dispute Resolution Team of the Year
Clyde & Co

Regulatory and Investigations Team of the Year
Baker & McKenzie

TMT Team of the Year
Dentons

Employment Team of the Year
Al Tamimi & Company

CSR Team of the Year
Dentons