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Post-merger fallout: Squire Patton Boggs loses 23-strong team in the Middle East

The legacy Squire Sanders practice in the Middle East, a team of 23 lawyers that included five partners, has exited Squire Patton Boggs following the firm’s merger, leaving it with Patton Boggs’ legacy affiliate The Khalid Al-Thebity Law Firm.

The legacy Middle East practice of Squire Sanders, which includes offices in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Kuwait, will undertake a demerger just two years after El-Khoury & Partners, run by corporate partner Ziad El-Khoury, joined the firm after an affiliation that began in 2006. 

The team are believed to generate revenue of around $4m and were recently enlisted by Kuwait to administer 13 privatization projects, from schools to waste management and postal services.    

Squire Sanders and Patton Boggs both went into the merger with an affiliation in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, but tensions soon arose when the firm attempted to merge the operations and appointed Khalid Al-Thebity, the founder of the Patton Boggs affiliate and longtime lawyer to the Saudi Arabian government, as managing partner in Riyadh.

Patton Boggs established an affiliation with the firm, which has offices in Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Doha and Dubai, in 2012. Al-Thebity’s practice focuses on the energy, construction and real estate industries.  

Hadi Melki and El Khoury, who co-founded El-Khoury & Partners, depart Squire Patton Boggs alongside fellow partners Khulaif Al-Enezee, Wissam Hachem and Beirut-based Elie Abouzeidan.

Melki and Hachem were fully integrated within the Squire Sanders partnership under its UK LLP, while El Khoury came under the US LLP. Al Enezee and Abouzeidan were joined through association offices as foreign law firms are unable to practice in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia without a local affiliation.

The Saudi Arabian office, Al Enezee Legal, was the largest of the legacy firm’s offices in the Middle East with around 20 staff, including a support team, and their exit cuts the number of Squire Patton Boggs lawyers in the Middle East down to 25. ‘Patton Boggs people needed to do more to make us feel welcome rather than a power play,’ said one lawyer.  

Squire Patton Boggs’ European and Middle East managing partner, Peter Crossley, commented: ‘Khalid and his team are highly regarded, with a depth of experience and capability within sectors of strategic importance for our global firm. With a well-established Riyadh office we will be able to unlock opportunities in Saudi Arabia and throughout the region.’

Al-Thebity said: ‘We are very pleased to be affiliated with Squire Patton Boggs. The firm’s global network and its strength in key hubs across the Gulf means that we are very well-positioned to provide services to clients doing business or investing in the Middle East.’