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As Unrest in Egypt Unfolds, BigLaw Firms Keep Wary Eye on Offices There

Posted Feb 2, 2011 2:50 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Despite reported turmoil in Egypt, it appears that the relatively small number of major international law firms with offices there have stayed out of the worst of the fray.

"Our paramount concern is for the safety and welfare of all our people," says Howard Morris, the CEO of SNR Denton, in a written statement, noting that a predecessor of his firm has had offices in Cairo since the 1960s. "We have naturally been following the situation very closely."

Officials who could be reached directly at other law firms with offices there say they have shut down, along with the rest of the city's businesses, and that their staff are at home, reports the American Lawyer in an article reprinted in New York Lawyer (reg. req.).

Abdul Aziz Al-Yaqout, who serves as Middle East regional managing partner of DLA Piper, says its office in Cairo will be closed until further notice and describes the situation there as "chaotic." He says law firm workers are focusing on keeping their families safe and their property secure.

Demonstrations in Cairo turned violent today, reports the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.), with one soldier said to be dead and hundreds of individuals injured after forces sent by embattled President Hosni Mubarak charged anti-government protesters.

Attorney Ibrahim Saadouni, 47, who was among the protesters, blamed thugs for hire for initiating violence.

"They've come to create a civil war," he tells the newspaper. "They're doing this to make war so the army will step in to end the demonstrations, because we won't leave."

Updated at 2:10 p.m. to include Wall Street Journal coverage.

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