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Legal directories in the Middle East

Scenic City Distance Aerial View

The 12th April is, apparently, the anniversary of the day that the first US colonists arrived at ‘Cape Disappointment’.  This year that coincides with the publication of the EMEA Legal 500.

How, I wonder, will you be feeling? Disappointed? Elated? Vindicated? Numb?

I’m thinking especially about the Middle East chapters. This is a crowded market to crack – highly competitive, supposedly over-lawyered, and as a result, write-ups really matter.

Several foreign firms pulled out of Middle East jurisdictions in the last couple of years. Herbert Smith Freehills, Latham & Watkins and Clifford Chance gave up their Qatar offices. Clifford Chance left Riyadh.

Hogan Lovells, Baker Botts, Latham & Watkins, Simmons & Simmons and Vinson & Elkins all left Abu Dhabi, pulling back to Dubai – thereby increasing the ‘crush’ in Dubai.

These are all elite law firms, so we can assume they’re not retrenching because clients found their work shoddy.

No, the pressure in such a crowded market is to stand out – and that’s why the directories, awards and media profile are important.

There are more than 30 eminent international firms in Dubai – what will those who get what they want in the 2017 write-up gain?

Recruiting talent will be easier – candidates will question the firm’s commitment less, and assume the opportunities for high quality work are there.

Marketing will be easier. You can say you’re just great till you’re blue in your disappointed face – a good write up gives you external validation.

Non-local clients will notice – the search for in-country counsel starts with a list. That’s the power of the directory.

Conversations with other firms who refer work become easier to start.

Credit for what you achieve goes on the record.

General counsel at existing clients can justify instructing you when budgets come under pressure.

That’s the power of differentiation. So if you arrive at your own Cape Disappointment on 12 April this year, get in touch, and we’ll tell you how to make April 2018 a happier time for you and your firm.

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