Associate – International Law Firm
This article aims to provide an overview of some of the FAQ’s and considerations that Magic / Silver Circle, US / Inteational and UK Top 40 law firm Associate or Senior Associate lawyers have when contemplating about potentially relocating from London to Dubai (or the broader Middle East). The Middle East legal services market, and consequently the legal recruitment market, has bounced back in 2021 and there is an ongoing demand for high calibre lawyers looking to relocate.
Legal Market Overview
The breakdown of where most lawyers are qualified at the major inteational UK & US law firms in Dubai / the Middle East, demonstrates that the majority of lawyers are England & Wales Qualified Solicitors (as outlined below), so those lawyers relocating find adapting to the work and environment generally easier than they might have expected.
The legal and business hubs of Dubai and Abu Dhabi mean that the United Arab Emirates remains the most popular destination for lawyers looking to relocate from the UK, however destinations such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait all offer opportunities.
For 25 years +, Dubai has drawn in lawyers from the UK with its cosmopolitan lifestyle, tax-free renumeration, clement weather and travel hub opportunities. Many of whom have settled in the region for the long-term and now partners or GC’s in the region. For those relocating back to London after a stint in the Middle East, have transferred inteally, or found (particularly in past 5 years) the experience gained at a high-profile firm in terms of emerging markets exposure, quality of work and experience has not hindered their career progression and can be seen as a boon.
Law Firm Recruitment in 2021
Following on from pandemic impact in 2020, law firms have seen consistent demand and instructions throughout 2021, which has led to the associated demand in legal recruitment, something which is likely to continue on through the Autumn and into 2022. There are such events and projects helping to dive demand in the Middle East region, such as the Expo 2020 starting in October, the World Cup 2022 in Qatar, Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan and Saudi 2030 Vision.
The inteational UK and US law headquartered law firms in Dubai, are much smaller in terms of headcount than in London, with generally broader remits for lawyers in order to cover the requirements and reflect the demands of clients within the region, with corporate and construction disputes as the largest practices, as demonstrated in the graphic below. This allows associates to gain more client contact and deal / matter exposure and experience than they perhaps would have done as part of a larger team in London. Something which has the knock on effect of faster potential progression compared to peers in the UK.
On the basis of the above practice are breakdown there is strong demand for high calibre associates looking to relocate from Legal500 law firms from NQ level upwards in traditional core areas such as Corporate / Private Equity, Banking & Finance, Construction Arbitration (making up most of Dispute Resolution & Litigation), Project Finance, Projects / PPP, Debt Capital Markets, Real Estate. There is also a need in growing and developing areas in the region such Restructuring, TMT, IP, Funds, Financial Services Regulatory, Structured Finance, Corporate Trustee & Agency.
Financial and other benefits of relocating to Dubai.
Dubai is the number 1 globally in terms of locations where Ex-Pats take home 100% of there eaings (see below graphic for the PWC survey). With salaries at the leading UK & US law firms commensurate to those paid in London. For lawyers moving over on the same equivalent salary, without Income Tax and NI it would equate to 50% + increase in Net remuneration for UK upper bracket tax payers, so a very attractive financial proposition.
As a well-trodden path for lawyers moving from the UK to Dubai, relocation packages can include; flights, accommodation, relocation allowance and support.
The UAE has a tolerant and metropolitan culture, year-round sun, excellent infrastructure and facilities, easy access to a range of travel destinations (COVID restrictions permitting). With 78% + of the UAE population fully vaccinated, day-to-day life and inteational relocation in the ‘new normal’ has resumed.
If you are an associate or senior associate with a Legal 500 law firm in the UK practicing in Corporate / Private Equity, Banking & Finance, Construction Arbitration, Project Finance, Projects / PPP, Debt Capital Markets, Real Estate, Restructuring, TMT, IP, Funds, Financial Services Regulatory, Structured Finance, Corporate Trustee & Agency and interested in a confidential discussion about moving to Dubai / the Middle East, please get in touch with Stuart Greenland, Director at DMJ Middle East at Dubai@dmjlegal.com to schedule a call.
Director - DMJ Middle East