Top Lawyer Leaves For Middle East Role
“Slam Dunk”Decision From Top Lawyer Who Leaves For Middle East Role
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The legal exodus to Dubai has attracted one of New Zealand’s leading commercial lawyers, Bell Gully partner Andrew Abernethy. He is to join British-based international law firm Norton Rose next month.
Abernethy was named as a leading mergers and acqusitions lawyer in AsiaLaw’s 2007 guide and identified as a leading energy and resources lawyer by Australasian Legal Business.
He told Australasian Legal Business that he was sad to leave the firm. “It has good work and good people, but the bottom line is that for an international M&A lawyer, you need to be where the international M&A work is,” he told the magazine.
“The Gulf countries have one of the largest aggregations of sovereign wealth funds in the world; they have hundreds of billions of dollars of assets under management. It’s effectively a large pool of capital that’s looking for a home and for an opportunity,” he said.
He said that financially the move was “a complete slam dunk.” But a higher pay is not enough to go overseas, he said. “You have to move there for the work; you can’t move to a place like Dubai, or the Middle East generally, for the money. You got to get up in the morning and have fire in your belly and do deals, because if that doesn’t get you going, you’re in the wrong place.”
Before joining Bell Gully, Abernethy spent six years with Shearman &Sterling in New York and is admitted to practise both US and New Zealand law.
His hire is the latest in a series of appointments to Norton Rose’s Middle East practice, where it has been for 30 years. It follows the March hire of a banking partner and the relocation of a partner from Dubai to head the Abu Dhabi office, which launched at the beginning of May. Norton Rose is a major international firm with 1000 lawyers in offices from Amsterdam to Warsaw with about 50 lawyers in the Middle East.
Norton Rose has spent the last ten years investing overseas and asked its partners to carry the considerable pain. Its profits per partner in 2007 was £515,000, which was a 16 percent rise on the year before. The firm hasn't yet announced its 2007-08 PPP; for those equity partners that have shouldered the cost of foreign expansion.
The City firm, which has four offices across the region, has been moving to rebuild its strength in the Gulf locally after several departures. Last year it lost Middle East project finance head to law firm Ashurst and another to rival Herbert Smith.
Commenting on the hire, global corporate chief Tim Marsden said: “We have more than enough business in the Gulf and Andrew will hit the ground running.