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🇸🇦 Why global law firms are headed to Saudi Arabia

In today’s email:

  • WeWork doesn’t work

  • Law Society goes green

  • Fortnite’s battling Google

  • The history of the internet

  • Apple has been slowing your phone

  • Someone’s pretending to be Latham

  • The most addictive geography game on earth

  • Ghosted by a law firm? There’s a meme for that!

… and more!

If you take just one thing from this email…

Saudi Arabia is changing laws to allow foreign firms to operate there independently. The country is positioning itself as a competitive hub for international business and legal expertise. This move is a clear signal that the country is serious about attracting foreign investment and keeping high-value legal work within its borders.


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🇸🇦 Why global law firms are headed to Saudi Arabia

What’s going on here?

Law firms are opening offices in Saudi Arabia.

What does this mean?

Saudi Arabia’s government changed its laws to allow foreign firms to apply for their own licences rather than just relying on partnerships with existing Saudi law offices.

The change is designed to increase Saudi’s competitiveness and attract more foreign investment into the country and enable more high-value deals to stay within the country, rather than be taken abroad.

Which firms have opened in Saudi Arabia?

  • 📆 March 2023: Latham & Watkins, Herbert Smith Freehills and Clifford Chance were the first international law firms to be awarded their own licences. These firms previously worked with local Saudi firms.

  • 📆 November 2023: Mishcon de Reya has applied to open an office in Riyadh. CMS, Greenberg Traurig, Kirkland & Ellis and Addleshaw Goddard have also announced plans to open in Saudi Arabia.

What are the new changes to the law?

Changes to Saudi Arabia’s Code of Law Practice mean that foreign law firms can no longer work there by affiliating with a Saudi law firm. Instead, firms will need their own licence to operate as a branch office or joint venture.

There are other requirements in the law like:

  • 🏠 Two partners from the law firm must live in Saudi Arabia (minimum 180 days a year)

  • 👥 50% of the firm’s lawyers in the country must be from Saudi (though this could rise to 70%)

  • 🚫 Any work at the firm which relates to Saudi law cannot be passed to foreign offices

  • 🌍 No more than 30% of advisory work can be exported to lawyers working outside Saudi

  • 🔄 Firms must renew their licence every five years

Why should law firms care?

The Middle East is a land of opportunity for international law firms. While other global economies have struggled, this region has experienced increased growth and is set to gain $1.3tn from extra oil revenues alone over the next four years.

Rania Tadros, the managing partner of Stephenson Harwood’s Dubai office, says that the Middle East is an “increasingly sophisticated market, with demand for cross-border and international legal advice from multinational corporations, financial institutions and high-net-worth-individuals and their families.”

Since natural resources (oil and gas) and infrastructure are the region’s major economic drivers, law firms with this sort of expertise will want to have a presence in this area.

Herbert Smith Freehills’ managing partner, Stuart Paterson says “The Middle East region is strategically important to our clients and the firm.”

With an expected investment of $7tn in its economy by the government and international business by 2031, Saudi Arabia’s changes in its law is speeding the Kingdom up to become a major platform for the world's largest law firms.


law firm application season be like...


  • 🏢 WeWork files for bankruptcy in the US. The company once had a $47bn valuation, but now WeWork is restructuring under bankruptcy protection, as it grapples with debts and a drop in valuation to under $50m. Despite this, it's business as usual in their co-working spaces, including the UK where they're "fully committed" to tenants. Kirkland & Ellis is the law firm that’s leading the company on this.

  • 🌱 The Law Society is committing to net zero emissions by 2030. It’s joining the eco-conscious law firms like Osborne Clarke and Pinsent Masons. The society has already started reducing energy use and sourcing electricity from renewables, even with the challenge of modifying their historic Chancery Lane headquarters.

  • 📱 The UK competition court has greenlit an £850m class action against Apple. The accusations are that Apple deceived 25m users by "throttling" older phones. Apple refutes claims of intentionally reducing device lifespans, stating it was to protect aging batteries. If the claim triumphs, millions (including you) could receive compensation for the tech giant's alleged obsolescence strategy.

  • 👩‍💼 Latham & Watkins is fighting against impersonators who pretended to be the firm and even one of its Paris partners. These fraudsters crafted fake domains that echo the firm's legit ones, pushing made-up invoices on unsuspecting victims. Latham's suing for domain transfer, legal costs, and a stop to the digital doppelgängers. The firm is (of course) representing itself in court.

  • 💷 Rotork (a British industrial manufacturer) made an £80m buy-in deal with Aviva. A "buy-in" in pensions is like buying an insurance plan that guarantees retirees will receive their promised pensions. The deal secures the retirements of 406 pensioners and dependents. Thanks to a £20m boost from Rotork Plc, the scheme's investment and longevity risks are now reduced. Gowling WLG advised Rotork in this deal.

  • 🎮 Epic Games (the Fortnite creator) is suing Google to avoid Play Store fees for direct in-game sales on Android. This lawsuit accuses Google of stifling competition and locking in lucrative deals to maintain its app store's dominance, while Google defends its fees as necessary for user security. This legal fight could mirror Epic's previous clash with Apple.


  • 🌍️ Fun: If you know your geography, guess the neighbouring countries of a randomly chosen nations in this addicting game!

  • 😍 Cool: Check out this cool website that lets you see what different websites on the internet looked like exactly 10 years ago!

  • 🗞️ News: If you’re after apolitical, jargon-free commercial awareness from around the world, you’re in luck! Join 70,000+ readers who start their day with International Intrigue. 100% free.*

* This is sponsored content


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  • 📹️ Free application help: If you're applying to commercial law firms, check out my YouTube channel for actionable tips and an insight in to the lifestyle of a commercial lawyer in London.

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