The two leading international law firms are to close their Doha offices and service the region from their other middle eastern hubs.
Clifford Chance’s Doha closure came as little surprise, having receded their activities in the region steadily; the magic circle firm no longer had any lawyers working solely from the office when they announced the closure.
Following suit are Herbert Smith Freehills, who are also to withdraw their operations in Qatar. This is the second close of a middle eastern hub for Herbert Smith Freehills in recent years, having closed their Abu Dhabi office in 2015; consolidating their operations in the UAE to one base located in Dubai.
Herbert Smith Freehills launched the Qatari office four years ago; Following the close of the Qatar office, the firm will have 2 offices in the middle east; Dubai and Riyadh. Clifford Chance will continue to operate in the region through their Abu Dhabi and Dubai offices. Clifford Chance closed their Saudi Arabia office following a legal battle last year.
There are not expected to be any redundancies following the Doha office closures, with both Clifford Chance and Herbert Smith Freehills staff expected to be offered the choice to relocate to the firms’ other offices.
Herbert Smith Freehills and Clifford Chance are not the only high-profile firms closing middle eastern offices. US firm Baker Botts closed its Abu Dhabi office in 2015, as did Simmons and Simmons last year. Latham & Watkins closed both their Abu Dhabi and Doha offices in 2015 – similarly choosing to run their operations from their Dubai and Riyadh offices.