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Islamic finance rainmaker’s departure threatens to leave Dechert high and dry

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Points of Essence:

  • The Islamic finance legal practice at Dechert is crippled by the departure of its partner, Abradat Kamalpour and a number of his assistants.
  • The Islamic finance lawyers are significant stakeholders of the Islamic finance, thus their movement  like CEOs will make headlines. Buoyed by the spiralling fuel hike prices, the booming Islamic financial services industry in the Gulf does attract the critical talents around – the legal practitioners.

Luke McLeod-Roberts 1-Sep-2008

Islamic finance partner Abradat Kamalpour’s exit from Dechert (as reported on, 21 August) has led to the ­collapse of the firm’s core London Islamic finance practice, with two of Kamal­pour’s assistants moving to external posts in the Middle East and a trainee joining him at Ashurst.

Associate Grant Collins is looking to go in-house at a financial institution in the United Arab Emirates, while Shazia Khan will go to the Dubai office of ­Herbert Smith this month. Trainee Amr Marar is expected to join Kamalpour at Ashurst in London.

It is understood that with rainmaker Kamalpour ­moving on, members of the Islamic finance team did not feel they had much of a future at the firm.

A Dechert spokesman said New York-based partner Andreas Junius will be the new head of an eight-lawyer Islamic finance group.

But according to a source close to the firm, none of the remaining lawyers has a pure Islamic finance focus. “The others occasionally dabble in it when it comes into their area, but they’re not really focused on it,” the lawyer said.

While Kamalpour has chosen to remain in London where his clients are, the relocation of his two assistants to the Gulf is indicative of a wider trend for mobility to and within the region.

Clyde & Co recently took on four projects and construction lawyers in the Middle East – three from Pinsent Masons and one from Simmons & Simmons. Clydes HR manager Larry Archer said the firm’s resourcing plan for the Middle East has been “quite aggressive”.

During the 2007-08 financial year Clydes brought on board 43 fee-earners across the Gulf. It intends to surpass that this year, bringing on a further 54. Some 85 per cent of these are lateral hires and come from common law jurisdictions.

Archer said this is more a question of filling a short-term capacity need. In the long term the firm is looking at hiring lawyers from local Arabic practices.
“The longer-term strategy is to recruit and train lawyers who have ties to the region,” he added.

Pinsent Masons claims it has more than doubled the headcount in its Dubai office since ending its joint venture with local firm Galadari & Associates in June.

And although most of these are moves from other offices such as Leeds
or Manchester, the firm opened its corporate practice with an external hire of lawyer Tarek Naccache from local firm Bin Shabib.

Pinsents will open its property practice shortly with a further local hire.

Clifford Chance: Funds partner Nigel Clark and two associates are relocating from ­London.

Clyde & Co: Partner Mark Blanksby and two associates join the firm from Pinsent Masons.

Denton Wilde Sapte: Paul Stothard is ­relocating from London, having been made up to partner.

Pinsent Masons: Three lawyers are ­relocating, including projects partner Melanie Grimmitt from Leeds. Plus four new associate hires.

Vinson & Elkins: Capital markets ­partner Jim Knight is relocating from Houston.


Written by Suapi Shaffaii

September 5, 2008 at 11:35 am

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