A&O launches in Saudi Arabia ahead of Shearman mega-merger

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By Anuja Venkataramani on


Follows similar moves by Kirkland & Ellis, HSF and Clifford Chance

Allen & Overy has become the latest international law firm to plant its flag in Saudi Arabia, consolidating its Middle Eastern presence.

The firm’s Riyadh office is its third Middle East outpost, with existing offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The long-anticipated mega-merger with Shearman & Sterling, to create A&O Shearman, is said to be on track for 1 May. Shearman’s Riyadh team will be joining A&O’s Saudi lawyers post-merger.

Put together, the A&O Shearman team in Riyadh will cover matters including corporate and commercial, M&A and capital markets, and restructuring and insolvency.

The move to open a new office in Saudi Arabia has been made possible by a change to the Saudi Code of Law Practice in March 2023, which made it possible for foreign law firms to apply for a licence to practice in the country from the Saudi Ministry of Justice. Prior to that, foreign outfits were only able to operate in the country through associations with local law firms.

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Legal Cheek has previously reported on other law firms securing an on-the-ground presence in Saudi Arabia, including Kirkland & Ellis, Clifford Chance, Herbert Smith Freehills and Squire Patton Boggs.

A&O regional managing partner for the Middle East and Turkey and interim global managing partner commented:

“We are thrilled to announce the opening of our office in Riyadh as we look forward to supporting the Kingdom further on its ambitious diversification programme as part of Vision 2030. A&O has had a strong presence in the Middle East since 1978, including a long history of advising clients in the Kingdom, and as A&O Shearman we look forward to continuing to combine the best of global and local to offer our domestic and international clients a full-service offering, bringing a breadth and depth of resource that we believe is unmatched. We are delighted to have established an independent office in the Kingdom and we look forward to the opportunities ahead.”

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The global epicenter of capital is shifting, bring on the next decade!

Kirkland NQ

Imagining how many Lambos I could afford if I was at the ‘land in Saudi, with that lovely tax free salary…


Isn’t it about time you became Kirkland Partner!!!!!! Up or OUT?

Embassy Visitor

Still – good news about them changing their logo on LinkedIn to rainbow colours once a year.

I don’t know why these firms pretend they care about diversity and then open up offices in the human rights utopia of Saudi Arabia

Scouser of Counsel

In Saudi Arabia:

– Women have virtually no rights.
– Being gay can get you sentenced to death.
– The judicial system flogs people.
– The judicial system chops people’s heads off.

How do these firms reconcile that with their E&D policies?

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