Clifford Chance replaces Saudi Arabia office with new local alliance
Clifford Chance has taken the unusual step of replacing its office in Saudi Arabia in favor of an alliance with local firm, Abuhimed Alsheikh Alhagbani Law Firm.
Legal Week reported Monday that the move came in the midst of an investigation by Saudi authorities into Clifford Chance’s previous licensing arrangement in the country. According to Legal Week, Clifford Chance’s new alliance will be headed by Fahad Abuhimed, a former deputy minister of the Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Investment. It was this ministry that initially granted Clifford Chance’s license to practice in Saudi Arabia until a former associate challenged its validity in court. The case was sent back to the lower court from an appellate court, earlier this month, for a rehearing.
Bloomberg Big Law Business reports that the AS&H tie-up was more about expanding its services to its clients in the area. “It’s quite a dynamic time in the region,” Clifford Chance spokeswoman Claire Gosnell told Bloomberg.
According to Legal Week, the new partnership will officially start Nov. 1, and that, between Clifford Chance and AS&H, there will be six partners in the area. A spokeswoman told Bloomberg that there would not be any layoffs, but that there might some shuffling around of responsibilities and individuals. “The Saudi lawyers and business services staff will transition to AS&H while our foreign lawyers will remain employees of Clifford Chance and be seconded to AS&H,” Sonia Malhotra said in an email to Bloomberg. “The current Clifford Chance partners will also remain Clifford Chance partners and not become partners of AS&H.”