HFW makes double partner hire in Dubai from shipping rival Clyde & Co

UK firm hails 'very significant' hires and promises further Middle East investment
Portrait photos of Robert Lawrence and Ian Chun

Robert Lawrence (left) and Ian Chun

Top 30 UK firm HFW has hired two high-profile shipping and offshore marine partners, Robert Lawrence and Ian Chung, from Clyde & Co to bolster its Middle East practice.

The duo join the firm’s Dubai office, with Lawrence’s practice focusing on advising marine and offshore industry clients on disputes related to EPC contracts, offshore casualties, ship building and marine insurance. Chung’s practice focuses on deal-related marine and transport matters, such as M&A, regulation, licensing and finance.

Their arrival looks set to consolidate HFW's status as a top tier shipping firm in the region. 

Yaman Al Hawamdeh, HFW’s UAE managing partner, said: “This is a very significant development for HFW in the Middle East. Robert and Ian are go-to lawyers for maritime, offshore and international trade work… We plan to continue to invest in the Middle East and will actively pursue opportunities to further strengthen and broaden our offering to clients.”

Lawrence joins after almost 16 years at Clyde & Co, most recently as head of the firm’s international trade and transport practice for the Middle East. He made partner in 2013 having joined as an associate from Hill Dickinson in London.

Chung, meantime, returns to HFW after just over five-and-a-half years at Clyde & Co. He previously spent more than 11 years at HFW, where he started his career in private practice. Prior to that, he was a policy analyst at the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Lawrence said: “As a shipping disputes lawyer, there is simply no finer place to practise than HFW. The size, expertise and client base of the firm’s global shipping group is unrivalled – it really is the gold standard for advice to the industry.”

Earlier this year, HFW expanded its shipping practice to Denmark following the arrival of Danish shipping lawyer Jens Mathiasen from local firm Gorrissen Federspiel. In April, the firm also promoted four shipping lawyers, two to partner and two as legal directors, including shipping disputes expert Anas Al Tarawneh in Dubai.

Earlier in August, HFW said its revenue and profit per equity partner (PEP) dipped over the past financial year, having set a record in 2021. Total revenue fell 0.8% to £198.7m in the 12 months to the end of March, with PEP falling by 2% to £669,000. The firm said 60% of its revenue is now generated overseas while senior partner while Giles Kavanagh promised new recruits and potential tie-ups with boutique firms.

The duo's arrival boosts the number of partners based across HFW's Middle East offices in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Kuwait City and Riyadh to 20 while Clyde & Co, which merged with UK-focused insurance firm BLM in July, boasts 45 partners working out of branches in Abu Dhabi, Doha, Dubai and Riyadh.

Clyde & Co's marine, energy and natural resources practice across the Middle East and Africa is led by partner David Leckie, who relocated to Dubai in May 2022 from London. 

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