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Shearman planning Egyptian expansion

Posted by: Laurence Simons 12/06/13

US law firm Shearman & Sterling is understood to be considering an Egyptian office launch as arbitration disputes in the region continue to grow, meaning it would no longer need to handle cases in the country from its offices in Paris and London.

The organisation currently has ten ongoing arbitrations taking place in the state and feels that it can enhance its presence in the region by launching a new site there, according to Lawyer magazine.

Last week Norton Rose Fulbright said it was considering plans to open in a number of new jurisdictions including Egypt, while Baker & McKenzie, Crowell & Moring and DLA Piper all have associations in the country.

However, the only international law firms with permanent offices in Egypt are Dentons and Trowers & Hamlins, meaning it could potentially be a lucrative market for Shearman.

The recent salary survey from Laurence Simons pointed out that domestic unrest in Syria, protests in Egypt and the other problems facing the Middle East have not had a major effect on the legal market.

In fact, rather than decreasing recruitment activity in the region, it has seen firms work hard to convince prospective candidates to make a move - often meaning that attractive packages are available to lawyers considering upping sticks.

International arbitration head  at Shearman Emmanuel Gaillard told the Lawyer that he is currently looking for Arabic-speaking associates to join up with the new department, though it is unclear whether an Egypt entrance would take the form of a deal with a local firm.

London and the Middle East are the key areas of focus for growth, he explained, adding that the department is already strong in Latin America. However, he declared that expansion into China is relatively unlikely because competition in the region "can be based exclusively on price" rather than quality of service.