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Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has become the second international firm to pull out of Qatar in recent days, The Lawyer has learned.
It is understood both Clifford Chance and HSF have shut down their Doha offices this week following poor performance in the country.
Both firms will consolidate their Qatari practices into offices in Dubai and across the Middle East.
On Monday (6 February) Clifford Chance confirmed it will be closing its Qatar office later this month, with head of the office Jason Mendens moving to its Dubai office.
HSF closed its Abu Dhabi office in 2015 after taking the decision to consolidate its United Arab Emirates (UAE) offices into one base. As a result five lawyers relocated to its Dubai base.
A few months later, in October 2015, HSF then reopened in Saudi Arabia with a new Riyadh office, two years after the firm ended its six-year exclusive alliance with local firm Al-Ghazzawi Professional Association.
On the closure of Doha, Middle East managing partner Zubair Mir told The Lawyer: “We wanted to run our business out of two halves rather than three and this is part of an ongoing program to grow our Middle East business.
“We have had three new laterals in addition to moving one of our partners from Melbourne to Dubai as part of that growth, and we have decided that we no longer need an office in Qatar. We’ve got clients in a number of those different jurisdictions within the MENA region and it is easier to service them from a larger hub than from a smaller satellite.”
Last year HSF’s Asia Pacific offices suffered a major blow following a team move of 10 partners and a group of associates to White & Case. The team was largely made up of project finance lawyers from across Australia and Asia, and the US firm opened two Australian offices on the back of the lateral hires.
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