Quinn Emanuel secures King & Wood Mallesons partner duo for UAE launch

Litigation giant hires KWM Dubai office head plus another partner to set up shop in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Joanne Strain (l) and Parnika Chaturvedi Images courtesy of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan

US law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan announced today that it will open two offices in the UAE, one in Dubai and another in Abu Dhabi.

The litigation heavyweight has hired a pair of partners from King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) for the launch – current Dubai managing partner Joanne Strain and Parnika Chaturvedi, who will join Quinn Emanuel later this year. 

News of their departure follows KWM’s China arm forging an exclusive alliance with Eversheds Sutherland’s international business in July; as part of the deal KWM will terminate all its operations in the UK, Europe and the Middle East by the end of October 2024. 

The two firms said in a joint statement in July that “it is expected that the partners and staff of KWM (China) in those jurisdictions will be invited to join the respective offices of Eversheds Sutherland (International), subject to practice needs and other considerations.”

Meantime Quinn Emanuel’s new offices are set to open in early December, with management positions and the size of their initial teams to be decided in the interim. Their launch represents a major expansion of the firm’s footprint in the Middle East, where it currently has five lawyers including two partners based across offices in Doha and Riyadh according to its website. 

Quinn Emanuel founder and chairman, John Quinn, said the firm had been working in the region for some time and had been eyeing a UAE launch “for a while”. 

“The UAE is without doubt one of the most exciting, energised places on Earth,” he said. “The hires of Joanne and Parnika are a real coup in a competitive partner recruitment market. Both have material practices that fit extremely well with our existing track record litigating cases for clients in the region.”

Strain specialises in commercial and financial disputes and has particular experience in resolving disputes emerging from large scale Middle Eastern projects and financial settlements. Qualified in England and Wales, she joined KWM in 2009 from Allen & Overy and has recently acted for clients including Meydan Group, Industrial Commercial Bank of China and Mashreq Bank. 

Quinn Emanuel highlighted Strain’s experience as an arbitrator, noting that she executes dispute resolution strategies under all of the major arbitral institutional rules, including the DIAC, LCIA and ICC Rules, and regularly sits as an arbitrator for the major institutions. She also handles cases before the Courts of England and Wales, the Courts of the Dubai International Financial Centre and the Dubai World Tribunal. 

For her part Chaturvedi has been based in UAE for more than a decade, having relocated from a Delhi-based role as an associate at Indian law firm Trilegal to join KWM in Dubai in 2012. She made partner at the start of last year and specialises in international commercial arbitration and litigation, often with a cross border element. She is qualified as a solicitor of England and Wales, a member of the state bar of California and is qualified as an advocate in India. 

The duo’s impending departure from KWM in Dubai follows international commercial and investment arbitration specialist Tim Taylor KC exiting the office in September 2022; Taylor joined US litigation boutique Lewis Baach Kaufmann Middlemiss in Dubai in February. 

Apart from Strain and Chaturvedi KWM has just one other partner in Dubai according to its website – construction and dispute resolution lawyer Daniel Xu. 

KWM declined to comment on the departure of Strain and Chaturvedi. 

Quinn Emanuel’s UAE move sees it join a host of other international law firms in making a recent play in the country. Greenberg Traurig said earlier this month it had added a pair of real estate partners from BCLP to open in Dubai, while in August DWF added a trio of disputes partners in Dubai from Clyde & Co and Horizon & Co.  

Quinn Emanuel also bolstered its arbitration offering in London last week with the hire of partner Melis Acuner from Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft.

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