King & Wood Mallesons partner leaves to launch Dubai base for Charles Russell Speechlys


Charles Russell Speechlys is set to launch in Dubai with the hire of a partner from King & Wood Mallesons (KWM).

KWM disputes partner Ghassan El Daye is to join Charles Russell Speechlys ahead of the office launch, which is still awaiting regulatory approval.

When it happens, the launch will give Charles Russell its third office in the Middle East, alongside existing bases in Doha in Qatar and Manama in Bahrain.

El Daye will initially join the firm’s Bahrain base, which currently houses three partners, led by disputes partner and Middle East head Patrick Gearon.

His exit leaves KWM with three partners in Dubai: office head Tim Taylor QC, corporate partner Sandeep Dhama and international arbitration partner Joanne Strain.

Following the collapse of KWM’s European and Middle Eastern business at the start of this year, 17 partners agreed to stay on with the KWM successor firm in London, Dubai, Riyadh, Frankfurt and New York, with a number of partners also working in affiliated offices in Madrid and Milan.

Since the relaunch, KWM has closed its two-partner office in Riyadh, with El Daye’s exit taking the number of partners leaving the newly created firm to three.

On top of this, a three-partner team left KWM’s affiliated Milan base earlier this month to join McDermott Will & Emery, including local office head Giancarlo Castorino. He was accompanied in the move by partners Ettore Scandale and Emidio Cacciapuoti and a team of four counsel and 10 fee earners. Employment partner Andrea Nicodemi is also understood to be leaving KWM to join a local employment boutique, alongside three fee earners.

The moves will leave KWM with one partner in Italy – corporate specialist Davide Proverbio – and eight other lawyers.

El Daye joined KWM in 2015 from DLA Piper, where he was a legal director and head of local litigation for the United Arab Emirate.

He had previously been a partner in UAE firm Habib Al Mulla and prior to that had his own practice in Beirut.

Charles Russell Speechlys declined to comment.