Reed Smith boosts Dubai energy offering with Stephenson Harwood hire

Arrival of James Willn follows May's hire of Stephenson Harwood partner Timothy Cooke in Singapore

James Willn

Reed Smith has hired disputes partner James Willn from Stephenson Harwood to bolster its energy and natural resources team in Dubai. 

Willn’s practice focuses on litigating disputes for offshore and onshore contractors as well as shipyards, negotiating contracts on construction, shipbuilding, offshore drilling and long term charter contracts of specialist offshore vessels. 

He has spent his entire career with Stephenson Harwood, most recently as a partner in the UK firm’s Dubai office. Before that, he spent a decade as part of the London-based marine and international trade group. 

Praj Samant, chair of Reed Smith’s energy and natural resources group, described Willn as “one of the leading disputes lawyers in the market”, adding that his extensive experience in the energy and offshore maritime sectors will underpin the firm’s position as an “industry leader”. 

Willn is the latest arrival in a slew of lateral energy hires made in the last 12 months by the top 30 US firm, which includes the addition of Willn's Stephenson Harwood disputes colleague Timothy Cooke, who joined Reed Smith’s Singapore team in May. 

The firm also hired commodities finance partner Daniel Birch from Allen & Overy and oil and gas partner James Atkin from Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe in London, while regulatory partner Jonathan Marcus joined the team in Washington DC. 

Launched in 2006, Reed Smith’s Dubai office is led by Middle East regional managing partner Sachin Kerur and boasts 21 lawyers, including five partners. 

“We are delighted to welcome such a talented and ambitious lawyer to the team here in Dubai,” Kerur said. “James’ wealth of experience will further enhance our leading energy, construction and shipping capabilities across the globe.”

In August, Curtis Mallet-Prevost Colt & Mosle strengthened its presence in the Middle East by launching an office in Riyadh, while Kennedys opened for business in Muscat, the capital of the Sultanate of Oman, back in June. 

Moe recently, Herbert Smith Freehills hired Baker Botts partner Euan Pinkerton to launch an on-the-ground transactional offering in Riyadh last month and DWF reshuffled its Middle East operations by announcing the creation of a regional headquarters in the Saudi Arabian capital. 


Email your news and story ideas to: