Its law firm mania this month in Dubai. As Baker McKenzie, the largest international law firm by revenue, announced it was merging with Habib Al Mulla, Hogan Lovells said it was consolidating its UAE operations and shifting all operations to Dubai. Meanwhile, Washington, DC-based Patton Boggs — arguably the largest lobbying law firm in the US — revealed it was expanding its operations in the Middle East with a new office in the emirate as well.
Patton Boggs, which is almost 50 years old this year and among the top 100 law firms in the US, has been operating in the Middle East since its inception in the 1960s, growing its operations in tandem with the economic growth of the Gulf region and wider Arab world. One of its founders went on to become the vice chairman of the American University of Cairo.
The firm was active in Iran from 1967 until the fall of the Shah and helped the Hospital Corporation of America in building hospitals in Saudi Arabia in the 1970s and early 1980s. It also began operating in Oman in the 1980s working on negotiation agreements with the US military and then began representing large US companies that were expanding into the UAE. The firm has represented the government of Abu Dhabi in various capacities, including the private office of HH Sheikh Zayed, the late president of the UAE, until 2004.
“We have been the quiet advisors on some of the most important things that have happened in the region over the past 50 years,” says managing partner Edward Newberry, who has been with the firm for 22 years.
Litigation accounts for some 40 percent of the firm’s revenue and is followed by regulatory related cases concerned with antitrust, energy, food and drug government contracts, healthcare, tax, telecommunications and transportation. The law firm also handles dispute resolution, which includes international arbitration.
“One of the things we do better than any firm in the world is the intersection in the US of law and government,” says Newberry. “In infrastructure development we are one of the top firms in the world. We handle some of the largest mass tort cases in the world. We also are among some of the best firms in insurance and reinsurance litigation and that’s a big part of our practice.”
The firm was involved in famous cases like the $20bn collapse of Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) which became defunct in 1991 and caused thousands of people in the 78 countries in which the bank operated to lose their savings amidst accusations of fraud.
“We were called in to represent the government of Abu Dhabi. We handled the liquidation and dispute resolution for the government regarding the collapse of BCCI. It was a global effort, it was very complicated and involved many jurisdictions,” says Newberry. “Undoubtedly, BCCI was among the most complicated cases that any firm in the world has handled. It involved jurisdictions throughout the world which meant that implicated legal systems throughout the world.”
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