Shalakany Law Office is one of the oldest and largest law firms in Egypt. Established in 1912 when Egypt was still a part of the Ottoman Empire, Shalakany has successfully forded over a century of practice in Egypt and the MENA region.
How has the firm maintained its status as a top-tier adviser over the years, and what has been the secret of your success?
Shalakany was established in 1912 by the founder Abdelfattah El Shalakany who, during his tenure as a lawyer, also became the head of the lawyers’ syndicate in 1950. Abdelfattah’s dedication to others (the lawyers’ syndicate currently has over half a million members) and to Egyptian legal culture exemplifies Shalakany’s attitude to practising law in Egypt and the MENA region. After Abdelfattah, the firm has been successfully led by several managing partners who maintained the requirement for excellence established by Abdelfattah. The current managing director, Dr Khaled El Shalakany, is Abdelfattah’s grandson. Over the years many partners and associates have joined the firm, all of whom have fit in with that spirit of excellence and community.
Shalakany is a general service law firm with a broad balance of transactional and disputes partners and associates. Shalakany’s approach is to invest in its lawyers to deal with complex issues when they arise as well as dealing with less complex but more voluminous issues efficiently.
Lawyers are given training throughout their tenure and are encouraged to branch out of law. Shalakany currently has lawyers who spend their spare time as Egyptologists, musicians, writers, sailors, artists and more.
Shalakany also believes in re-investing into the legal community. Shalakany supports a mooting culture in Egypt by administering the Jessup national rounds, sponsoring Jessup and Vis teams to travel and compete, as well as holding a moot tailored for Egyptian law, the Shalakany Arbitration Moot (SAM) every year. Shalakany supports law faculties at various universities, and gives lectures and training seminars for students, clients and non-clients alike.
Moreover, as a way of giving back to the Egyptian community, the firm continuously handles work on a pro bono basis, ranging from human rights and animal rights to ethical and social issues. Finally, the firm also strongly believes in and promotes gender equality. This is clearly reflected in the firm’s hiring and anti-discrimination policies, which are consistently reviewed and reconsidered in order to ensure their efficiency.
‘Shalakany has one of the best disputes departments in Egypt dealing with the entire range of disputes.’
Can you describe Shalakany’s disputes practice?
Shalakany has one of the best disputes departments in Egypt dealing with the entire range of disputes in Egypt and the MENA region. With eight disputes partners and over 30 fee-earners specialising in disputes, Shalakany handles over 1,000 litigation cases every year. These cases range from volume work to complex litigation, spread over every province in Egypt, dealing in matters spanning employment, tax, customs, social insurance, commercial, shareholder, competition, maritime, property, construction, investment disputes and other disputes as well.
Shalakany deals with every aspect of a dispute. It has some of the best litigation specialists in Egypt. When it comes to administrative matters it has specialists who have dealt with various governmental entities for decades and who know best practice when dealing with Egypt’s bureaucracy.
Egyptian law forms the basis of most MENA region laws and Egyptian lawyers are often employed in the gulf as prosecutors, judges and lawyers. Shalakany disputes lawyers are regularly called upon to provide legal opinions, expert reports, expert missions, act as co-counsel, act as arbitrators, write memoranda, and occasionally plead before the courts in other jurisdictions in the MENA region.
Shalakany has a vibrant arbitration department, with specialists who handle arbitrations dealing with cases and governing laws from all over the MENA region, including investor-state arbitrations, international commercial arbitrations, maritime, oil and gas, infrastructure, energy and construction disputes.
Shalakany has handled arbitrations in Iraq, UAE, Jordan, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and, of course, Egypt.
Shalakany also encourages clients to settle when the opportunity is present, and Shalakany has a pro-settlement approach to negotiations and settlement drafting. Shalakany often brokers settlements for its clients, including before contentious counterparties, administrative organs and government representatives including ministers and ministerial aides in high-level disputes.
‘It is essential for Shalakany to have educated, dedicated and passionate team members.’
Shalakany also often handles mediation procedures for clients when dealing with government disputes.
Shalakany has fluent Arabic, English and French speakers and can provide disputes services in all three languages.
Shalakany’s lawyers are trained and licensed in various jurisdictions, including Egyptian law, French law, the law of England and Wales, Ontarian law, and New York law.
We have one of the strongest disputes team in the region.
How do you continue to recruit the best partners and lawyers?
It is essential for Shalakany to have educated, dedicated and passionate team members. We do not usually hire laterally but instead prefer to retain our talent and train our team from the onset. Most of our associates and partners at Shalakany are in it for the long haul and are encouraged to continue training throughout their career.
We have found that this increases our ability to retain clients as our lawyers build long-lasting relationships with our clients and take time to understand the clients’ practices and needs.
Apart from acting before the domestic courts and arbitration institutions, do you have any additional experience in representing clients before the national courts in other countries?
Yes, Shalakany has oftentimes been invited to act as co-counsel in litigation cases in the Arabian Gulf. In many of these jurisdictions, Egyptian lawyers are allowed to plead with the permission of the court and Shalakany has done so previously.
In arbitration, Shalakany has handled many matters as main counsel in the MENA region.
Clients mark the Shalakany team as specialists for commercial law disputes.
What are your recent developments in that field?
Competition law is a growing field in Egyptian dispute practice and Shalakany is proud to say that we are at the forefront of this area and are one of the only firms in Egypt with competition law specialists. We are currently one of the firms with the largest share of cases defending against the Egyptian Competition Authority. Apart from the firm’s significant involvement in competition law, we also have considerable experience in handling commercial contracts, including agency contracts and franchise agreements. The firm is also known for handling intellectual property rights disputes.
Adam El Shalakany, disputes partner, Shalakany