Clyde & Co secures 13-lawyer team from PwC in Middle East corporate push

Trio of PwC practice heads among those to defect in what is thought to be largest Middle East team move in years

(l-r) Nora Al Muhamad, Darren Harris and Alan Wood Images courtesy of Clyde & Co

UK law firm Clyde & Co has secured a 13-lawyer corporate team in Dubai from PwC, in what is thought to be the largest team hire in the region for several years.

The team includes partners Nora Al Muhamad, Darren Harris and Alan Wood - all of whom were practice leads at PwC - along with a mix of associates and legal directors. Al Muhamad headed the family business and corporate restructuring practice for the Middle East, while Harris led the legal function and was head of corporate for the Middle East and Wood led the corporate function in Saudi Arabia. 

The group’s arrival continues a period of expansion in the Middle East at Clydes, which since the start of the year has added corporate partners Mohammed Almarzouki and Anas Alswailem in Riyadh from local firms and opened an associate office in Cairo that saw three more corporate partners join the ranks from Baker McKenzie. The firm says it is now one of the largest in the Middle East and Africa, with more than 90 partners in nine offices across the region, including 27 in the corporate practice following the latest hires from PwC. 

“Our corporate practice strategy focuses on aligning with market opportunities and our clients’ priorities ensuring that we are best placed to support them on their domestic and cross-border matters,” said Naji Hawayek, partner and head of Clyde & Co’s Middle East corporate team. “These latest hires deepen our position as one of the largest and most well-established corporate practices in the region.”

Al Muhamad, Harris and Wood bring strong backgrounds representing clients on cross-border M&A, including private equity, venture capital, joint ventures and corporate advisory matters. They also, equally notably, have restructuring experience with both personal and state-owned enterprises. 

Al Muhamad’s practice leans towards family businesses, where she advises prominent family-owned companies on succession planning and legacy projects. She has joined Clydes after almost 11 years at PwC, where she was most recently a director, according to her LinkedIn bio. 

Meantime Harris has steered Middle Eastern deals locally and across transactions in Africa, Europe, and the UK. He has spent the past 10 years in Dubai, originally as a partner at Addleshaw Goddard before joining PwC in 2018. 

Wood has left PwC after nearly nine years, having previously been a significant figure at Pinsent Masons, establishing and leading that firm’s regional corporate practice in 2008. Before that he practised in the UK for legacy Garrett & Co – part of the now-defunct Andersen Legal network. 

The team’s move to Clydes marks one of the largest in the Middle East for a number of years. Another sizable move happened in January, when seven lawyers including a trio of partners defected from Shearman & Sterling to launch a new office in Abu Dhabi for Gibson Dunn. 

The group’s hire continues a sustained period of international expansion at Clydes, which last summer recorded its 24th consecutive year of revenue growth, upping turnover 1.6% in 2021 to hit £650m. 

As well as launching in Egypt, the firm announced in February that it had taken over 14-lawyer insurance boutique Hermes Netburn O’Connor & Spearing to set up shop in Boston, having also recently opened in Milan, Bangkok and Santiago, Chile. 

Over the past few years the firm has also opened three offices across the southwestern US and two in Canada, in Calgary and Vancouver. 

Other UK firms making moves in the Middle East recently include Brodies, which last month announced it was relocating a pair of partners to launch in Abu Dhabi to serve its energy and oil and gas clients locally. 

Meantime in March Addleshaw Goddard hired a trio of partners from rival firms including Latham & Watkins to debut in Saudi Arabia, the same month that Linklaters, Clifford Chance and Herbert Smith Freehills became some of the first international firms to be awarded licences to set up their own practices in the Kingdom following amendments to the Saudi Code of Law Practice.  

And in April HFW bolstered its Dubai construction team with the hire of senior partner Slava Kiryushin from DWF, having hired high-profile shipping and offshore marine partners Robert Lawrence and Ian Chung in Dubai last summer from Clydes.  

PwC did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the departures.  

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