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Jones Day Expands in Saudi Arabia
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jones day Jones Day, an international law firm with over 2,500 lawyers, announced a plan to boost its presence in the Middle East by adding three new offices in Saudi Arabia this year. The Ohio based firm has partnered with local law firm Al Sulaim & Al Awaji to push through the expansion program. Jones Day will set up its three new offices in Jeddah, Khobar and Riyadh. The firm said that the offices in Khobar and Jeddah will be operational later this year. Jones Day reentered the Middle East legal market in March 2009.

Mary Ellen Powers, Jones Day’s partner-in-charge of Jones Day for Europe and Middle East practice, explained that the expansion plan is attributed to the booming economy of Saudi Arabia over the past few years. Powers reiterated that two decades ago Jones Day only operated a small office in Saudi Arabia. Now, the firm wants to spread out its operations and strengthen its presence in the Middle East legal market. “The economy has changed dramatically in Saudi Arabia since then. The Saudi government has worked hard over the last several years to successfully expand the economy, so it’s no longer dependent on the oil industry. Many segments of the economy have also been privatized, so the portion of The Kingdom’s [gross domestic product] that is in the private sector has increased, changing the nature of the legal opportunities there.”

Arman Galledari, project finance partner, added that the Saudi Arabia has become an attractive country for many international law firms in the recent years due to its strong economy and active legal market. “No international firm’s Middle East practice can ignore Saudi Arabia; it’s such a big engine in the region. A great deal of the work that most law firms do, including ourselves, revolves around Saudi Arabia.” Gallederi added that Jones Day plans to increase its manpower and add more practices soon. “Jones Day hopes to have about 25 lawyers working full-time for the firm in the Middle East. The firm now has eight lawyers working out of Dubai and plans on increasing to the “low teens as rapidly as we can” if he can find the right hires. Besides energy and project finance, M&A is becoming a more important practice area in the region, and will be a major focus for the firm.”

  
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