Middle East Legal Recruiters Inundated with Résumés from U.S. Lawyers

Legal résumés are pouring into recruiters’ offices from lawyers looking for work in the Middle East and Asia as law firms continue their expansion there.

One legal recruiter in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, told the New York Times he has gotten so many applications from top-quality New York lawyers that he is seeing a slight backlog. “To be completely honest,” he said, “we’re really struggling to get these guys jobs over here.”

John Lonsberg, who heads Fulbright & Jaworski’s legal team in Saudi Arabia, told the Times he is also seeing interest in the Middle East job market. “We always see a lot of résumés—three to five a day,” he said.

Interest is also strong in Hong Kong, where recruiters have seen a record number of résumés in the last two months, the story says.

The increased interest comes as law firms experiencing declining profits in the United States continue to expand into the Middle East and Asia in search of additional legal revenue, the Times story explains. Mark Bisch, who heads Fulbright’s office in Dubai, estimates that in just the past year, nearly 40 British and U.S. firms have opened branches in the Middle East. Some firms are expanding overseas even as they lay off lawyers here.

So many law firms have opened offices in Dubai that some are turning to new locations in the area, according to the Times. Clifford Chance, Patton Boggs, Latham & Watkins, Dewey & LeBoeuf and Vinson & Elkins are all opening offices in Abu Dhabi, 90 miles away. And Latham & Watkins, Dewey & LeBoeuf, DLA Piper and Covington & Burling are opening offices in Doha, the capital city of Qatar.

Legal recruiters aren’t the only ones to benefit from the increased interest. Law firms are also finding it easier to find U.S. lawyers willing to transfer to their overseas offices. One of them is Sarah Glenn, a fourth-year associate at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, who is moving to Japan.

“Because of the markets, since October things have started to slow down in New York, while it seems that things are still busy in Asia,” she told the newspaper.

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