Simmons & Simmons is the latest firm to shake up operations in the Middle East, closing its Abu Dhabi office in a move which affects five lawyers including three partners.
The firm said in a release that ‘following a detailed review’ it was consolidating, and would service clients from an ‘enhanced offering’ in Dubai, its largest office in the region.
It added: ‘Ultimately, the location of our offices is determined by the key markets for clients in our sectors.’
Simmons said the partners affected will relocate to Dubai and to the UK, while associates and some other staff had been offered the opportunity to relocate to other offices.
The exit follows the retreat of both Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) and Latham & Watkins from Abu Dhabi. Mid-way through last year HSF moved its six lawyer team from the capital to Dubai just six years after opening, while Latham said in March 2015 it would shut two offices in the Middle East. The US firm choose to relocate 11 lawyers across Abu Dhabi and Doha to Dubai.
Villiers Terblanche, the managing partner of the firm’s Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha offices said at the time: ‘In the last five years we have seen the legal market develop quite dramatically – our clients across the region use us increasingly regardless of the location of our lawyers and instead on experience, track record and market knowledge.’
Read more on the region in the feature: ‘The Middle East: After the gold rush’