Looming changes to rules governing international law firms in Saudi Arabia could help reshape the oil rich kingdom's legal market, with two global firms announcing this week that they are deepening or launching their presence there.

Global firm Squire Patton Boggs said Monday that it is terminating its association with a local law firm in Riyadh and instead plans to open its own office and hire attorneys in the region.

And on Tuesday, Greenberg Traurig said it was starting an affiliation with that same local office, the Khalid Al-Thebity Law Firm, as it enters the Saudi legal market for the first time.

Miami-founded Greenberg Traurig, which did not have a presence in Saudi Arabia before, said it intends to register with its Saudi partner as a joint venture in the kingdom, a move that would comply with the new law firm rules.

Saudi Arabia last year announced plans for law firms to be able to operate there independently, removing a requirement that they work through affiliated Saudi law offices. Those associations will no longer be allowed when the new rules go into effect later this year.

Squire Patton Boggs said Monday that it first gave notice that it planned to terminate its affiliation with Khalid Al-Thebity Law Firm in November, part of an effort to "position itself for maximum growth in Saudi Arabia over the coming years under the new legal regulatory structure there."

Firm chair and global CEO Mark Ruehlmann said in a statement that Squire Patton Boggs is "committed" to being in the kingdom and becoming "the 'go to' firm in Saudi Arabia for years to come."

Richard Rosenbaum, executive chairman of Greenberg Traurig, said in a statement the new Saudi guidelines are allowing global law firms to have a "genuine presence" there. He said the partnership with the Khalid law firm and its existing contacts in the region "will allow us to make a material impact from day one."

Three other global law firms — Latham & Watkins, Clifford Chance and Herbert Smith Freehills — said earlier this month that they were among the first firms to get a license from the Saudi Ministry of Justice to practice independently there.

Saudi work has been divisive for some law firms with a U.S. presence, and some cut ties with the kingdom after the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. A CIA assessment that year found Saudi Arabia responsible for Khashoggi's killing.

Squire Patton Boggs did not have any comment related to Saudi Arabia's human rights record, and Greenberg Traurig did not respond to a request for comment.


Related Articles

Singapore: Shipping law firm CJC hires new director

UK-headquartered shipping-focused law firm Campbell Johnston Clark (CJC) has hired transaction lawyer Aik Hui Chua as a director in Singapore from Squire Patton Boggs, where she was a senior associate.

As Red Sea goes to red alert, shipping lawyers try to guide clients through the storm

by Sarah Wong |

The ongoing tensions in the Middle East have put international shipping companies on tenterhooks as tit-for-tat missile strikes have turned the Red Sea into a high-risk zone for transit, clogging global trade and snarling supply chains.

Ince HK keeps shipping partners as maritime team joins SPB

by Nimitt Dixit |

Hong Kong law firm Ince & Co has continued to shed lawyers, with a three-member shipping and maritime team led by partner Ruaridh Guy joining global firm Squire Patton Boggs.