Foreign firms are starting to proactively approach foreign universities seeking attorneys for their China offices. US and UK firms have always been eager to bring over bilingual expats from the US, UK and AUS. Over the last few years, firms have been increasingly focusing on attorneys with exposure in the US, UK or AUS, preferably with a US J.D. or LL.M. as well as international law firm experience. Firms are realizing that strong legal technical skills and a foreigneducation are equally as important as language skills, top local academics and even a book of business. The bar has been set higher, but for those of you who fit this specific skill set, opportunities are plentiful and it’s very important that you make the right decision. It can be difficult in an ever-changing market like China and Japan to make this decision.

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November 21st, 2012

Posted In: About Us, Asia Jobs, Asia Market Watch, China, Expat Life, Expat Lifestyle Guide, Hong Kong, India, Middle East Market Watch, Office Openings/ Partner Moves & Promotions, Partner Watch, Practicing in Japan, Recent Posts, Recruiter, Recruitment, Uncategorized

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The UAE has no Chapter 11-style system and there have been calls for reform to the existing insolvency laws. Some lawyers in the region feel that Dubai World’s restructuring could lead to the much anticipated developments in the insolvency laws.

“Particularly given the magnitude of the amounts at stake, the restructuring of Dubai World will stress the nascent governing legal infrastructure,” said Oliver Agha of Islamic finance firm, Agha & Shamsi. “It may result in initiatives to develop or fill in gaps in the law that are highlighted once major restructurings like this test and stress the existing legal framework.”

“This is not the first restructuring exercise in the Gulf, but it is the biggest,” commented Mark Andrews, the head of restructuring & insolvency at Denton Wilde Sapte, “It will test the local business culture very severely.”

However, there is only a slim chance that the Dubai World situation will reach litigation to test the legal framework since Dubai World is state-owned and may be subject to sovereign immunity. Actions against the Dubai government can only be done with the permission of the Ruler of Dubai.

It seems that some creditors may be preparing for action, but the unique nature of the case may deter them for now. “Creditors are naturally keen to understand their legal position, as these matters can be quite complicated,” said Philip Abbott, a partner at Simmons & Simmons. “Each creditor will have its own motivations in terms of a restructuring process, but I would expect parties will attempt for the process to be consensual rather than litigious.”

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December 11th, 2009

Posted In: Middle East Market Watch

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Even with the surprise announcement by Dubai World that it wanted to delay debt repayments, which led to widespread panic, Middle East lawyers are downplaying the effects of it on Dubai’s future.

Dubai World, a state-backed conglomerate in charge of some of the Middle East’s largest projects, has approximately $60 billion of debt, and on November 25 the Dubai state asked creditors for a six-month pause on the debt payment.

Clifford Chance is acting as the adviser for Dubai World, as they have worked together in the past numerously, with Dubai-based corporate partner Simon Clinton and restructuring partner Robin Abraham leading the team.

Latham is advising the Dubai authorities on this matter, with a team led by local office head Bryant Edwards. Allen & Overy is rumored to be advising some of the banks acting as Dubai World’s senior lenders, but the firm is not confirming its position.

If creditors approve the postponement plans, then the repayment of the $4 billion bond issued by Dubai World subsidiary Nakheel, being advised by DLA Piper, will be delayed till the end of May 2010. Deloitte has been appointed to oversee a potential restricting of the group.

According to press reports, the Dubai government will not guarantee Dubai World’s debts, and it is unclear if Abu Dhabi will help Dubai in this crisis.

Ashurst Middle East managing partner Nick Bryans said, though, that: “The interest in the UK and US press in this matter is not reflected here – quite the opposite. I think in part the strong reaction was based on the manner in which this was announced, just ahead of the holiday. The financial markets were affected but appear to have recovered.

“I have no doubt that the debt issue will be solved and we still see significant signs that things are picking up, with a lot of new opportunities in the Middle East region.”

A Dubai-based partner with a magic circle firm stated: “To us here in Dubai this news was not exactly earth-shattering because postponing the debt repayment was what they were always going to do.”

One London-based magic circle Islamic finance partner commented: “If sanity prevails they’ll find the money and repay the debt, but there is a lot of hysteria and froth at the moment, so we will have to wait.”

December 10th, 2009

Posted In: Middle East Market Watch

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International firms planning on opening offices in Abu Dhabi may have to reconsider with the UAE pondering a moratorium on further office launches.Many firms have already entered Abu Dhabi in the past year, while a number of others are considering entering due to the attractive infrastructure and energy opportunities. However, the government is looking to avoid a repeat of the situation in Dubai, where the many offices launched between 2006 and 2008 had to fire numerous people after the local market declined.

A government source commented: “The government wants to avoid people becoming unemployed in the future – it would be a precautionary method.”

However, some argue that the existing regulations already control the market efficiently.

November 4th, 2009

Posted In: Middle East Market Watch

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As Cypress has devoted more and more resources to the Middle East legal market, and as the markets there show substantial resilience to the global downturn, more and more lawyers are interested in taking off their shoes and jumping in the wadi.  But we’ve noticed that some women are still relatively hesitant to work in the region.   The reality is, however, that in the areas in which foreign attorneys work and live, a cosmopolitan multicultural society exists which ensures that women are not second class citizens.

The countries with the most active legal markets and which are most open to foreign lawyers are the United Arab Emirates (“UAE”), with law offices based in the major cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and to a lesser extent Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Expats make up between and 80-90% of the workforce in the UAE, with most expats coming from South Asia, so the local culture is only part of the equation.   About 3% of the population is considered “Western,” and while the locals are definitely more conservative than most Americans (as October’s “sex on the beach case” has highlighted), the country is much less conservative than many imagine. (more…)

October 13th, 2009

Posted In: Middle East Market Watch

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Even if Your Ship Isn’t Sinking, it Could be Time to Jump – An Analysis of Hiring Trends in Overseas Legal Markets

No one would deny that in the past few months the legal job market has been less than robust.  A few weeks ago 317 attorneys were laid off in a single day.  Legal hiring has undeniably suffered under the weight of the sinking global financial markets.  That does not mean, however, that the right attorney and the right firm can’t make a match, despite the greater economic climate, especially for partners.

For the right highly qualified, well experienced candidate, now may just be the time to make a move.  It is a buyer’s market for talent; markets like the one we are currently facing are exactly the ones in which firms are on the lookout for that special candidate, and looking to make that hire that is just right.  Standards are higher than they were six or even three months ago, but if you meet them, there are firms that want to meet you. Where real needs exist, if you fit that need, there is no reason to wait.  We have seen numerous firms that have laid off employees domestically continue to hire in Asia.  In late February, Bloomberg reported that while firms in the US and UK are contracting, their China offices are expanding as “the country’s growing importance to clients makes it an essential location for global law firms, along with New York and London.”

The biggest change we have seen over the past few months is a reversal of the trend towards looser language requirements.  If you want to work in Asia, these days you need to speak the language.  In the past weeks our team has seen a more optimistic outlook in the Tokyo market, with firms beginning once again to actively look for candidates, albeit ones with exceptional qualifications and language skills who are willing to make a long term commitment to the city.  The Shanghai and Beijing markets have yet to show a robust recovery, but there are firms looking for highly qualified candidates with specific qualifications on the mainland.  Hong Kong is not in the greatest shape for U.S. qualified J.D.s, but if you are Hong Kong qualified there are jobs to be had. (more…)

March 4th, 2009

Posted In: Asia Market Watch, Middle East Market Watch

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The DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre) released several draft regulations comprising its intellectual property rights proposal on January 20, 2008 for public consultation.

These draft regulations topics such as patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. They also pitch the creation of a separate IP tribunal which would consist of three IP practictioners and handle IP disputes within the DIFC to mediate IP related disputes.

The first three proposals mostly emulate existing UAE federal law, and even ensure that IP regulations which apply at a UAE level will also apply in the DIFC.  The additional Trade Secrets Law is unique because UAE federal legislation doesn’t have a counterpart that attempts to define what constitutes a “trade secret”.

The DIFC is clearly making an effort to listen to views of international corporations and international law firms who will be affected by the changes.  Anyone can send their comments to DIFC Authority’s Chief Legal Officer/ Chairman of the Legislative Committee Dean A. Ferris at dean.ferris@difc.ae until February 20, 2009.

The UAE implemented its first federal IP laws in 1992, and have consistently been amending them since (most recently in 2002).  The DIFC, set up in 2004, is distinguished by its ability to set own individual civil and commercial regulations.  When there is no specific DIFC legislation, the DIFC opts to apply English law.  This clause means enforcement of IP laws have been ambiguous (since UAE and English law may conflict and lead to different consequences and outcomes).

Clyde & Co has welcomed the change with open arms, surely because it opens up a new window for IP arbitration. (more…)

February 9th, 2009

Posted In: Middle East Market Watch, Regulatory Changes

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