Quinn Emanuel set for Middle East launch with Qatar licence

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has secured a licence to launch an office in Qatar,  a move that will give the firm its first base in the Middle East.

The firm received approval from the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) earlier this month (7 November), allowing it to practise both international and local law in Doha.

Quinn construction partner James Bremen, who also chairs the firm’s construction and engineering practice, is named on the filing as its representative. He joined the US litigation powerhouse in December 2016 from Herbert Smith Freehills, to launch a UK construction disputes group.

It is understood the firm plans to find office space in the QFC early next year. The office will be led by Bremen and will include about five associates, all recruited locally in Doha. Bremen is expected to be the only partner in the office, dividing his time between London and Qatar. While at HSF, he also split his time between both these locations.

It will not be a full-service office but will serve Bremen’s practice, which is focused on construction projects and disputes.

Until 2006, international firms were restricted from launching in Doha without an association with a locally trained lawyer. Since then, the QFC has allowed firms to move in through its own separate regulatory framework.

The office opening will be the first for the firm in the Middle East and bucks a trend of international firms scaling back in the region.

In April, King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) cut ties with local firm Majed Almarshad, leaving the firm with just one base in the Middle East.

HSF has also scaled back in the Middle East, closing its Qatar office this summer, less than two years after the firm opted to pull the plug on its base in Abu Dhabi.

Others to close offices in the region include Clifford Chance, which called time on its Qatar base in February, and Latham & Watkins, which opted to shut its Doha and Abu Dhabi offices in 2015 and now runs its regional practice out of Dubai and Riyadh.

Quinn most recently expanded its office portfolio with an opening in Stuttgart, its ninth European base.

Quinn declined to comment.