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The world’s largest law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, chooses Riyadh as its Middle East headquarters

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The world’s largest law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, chooses Riyadh as its Middle East headquarters

Two of Saudi Arabia’s most pioneering female lawyers take on leadership roles

Kirkland & Ellis, the world’s largest international law firm by revenue, with 3,500 lawyers in the U.S., the UK, Europe and Asia, is expanding with the opening of its first Middle East office and regional headquarters in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The move is made with the full support and facilitation of the Regional Headquarters (RHQ) program of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment (MISA) and the Royal Commission for Riyadh City (RCRC).

Saudi Arabian Minister of Investment, His Excellency Khalid Al-Falih, said of today’s announcement: “Saudi Arabia presents some of the most compelling investment opportunities anywhere in the world. The opening of the Kirkland & Ellis Middle East headquarters in Riyadh reflects the importance leading international businesses attach to the Kingdom and the dramatically increased demand for global best-practice legal services in support of their investment goals. We welcome Kirkland & Ellis and all leading global firms to Saudi Arabia and look forward to the contribution they will make to our diversified national growth ambitions.”

Commenting on the opening of the new regional headquarters in Riyadh, Kirkland & Ellis’ Executive Committee Chairman Jon A. Ballis said: “Saudi Arabia is undergoing a social and economic transformation unprecedented in speed, scale and reach. Through robust government spending and high volumes of domestic and foreign direct investment, the Kingdom is attracting some of the world’s most respected businesses, many of whom are Kirkland clients.”

Mr. Ballis continued: “Kirkland ranks number one globally in private equity, mergers and acquisitions, litigation and restructuring legal services that are central to the emergence of a diversified Saudi economy. Our new regional headquarters in Riyadh will support international clients and a fast-growing roster of domestic Saudi clients as they navigate the vast opportunities presented by the rapidly growing economy.”

Kirkland has been granted a Foreign Law License by the Saudi Ministry of Justice to operate directly in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia following reform to the country’s legal licensing model. Seasoned Saudi lawyers Noor Al-Fawzan and Manal Al-Musharaf have joined Kirkland as partners to launch the new Riyadh office and regional headquarters, along with Kirkland corporate partner Kamran Bajwa, who draws on over 20 years of experience handling complex international legal matters in the Middle East. He has led Kirkland’s regional practice since 2011, is fluent in Arabic and studied Islamic Law.

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Commenting on the Riyadh office launch announcement, Mr. Bajwa said: “We’re delighted that two of Saudi Arabia’s most pioneering lawyers will take on critical leadership roles in our Riyadh office. Moreover, we are committed to attracting and developing the highest caliber Saudi lawyers as we grow.” 

“The creative, business-minded approaches for which Kirkland lawyers are known are essential for the complex transactions our clients undertake in Saudi Arabia, one of the most dynamic and fast-paced markets in the world. I am excited by the opportunity to build the Riyadh office and regional headquarters, contribute to supporting the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030 and expand Kirkland’s reach by serving our clients locally and across the region,” added Mr. Bajwa.

Ms. Al-Fawzan joins Kirkland from Latham & Watkins, where she was a partner in the Riyadh office. She focuses her practice on M&A, joint ventures and general corporate matters with a Saudi nexus. She previously worked as legal counsel in the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), an arm of the World Bank Group. She holds an LL.M. from Duke University School of Law and an LL.B. from Prince Sultan University. She is qualified to practice law in Saudi Arabia and the state of New York and was ranked as “Next Generation Partner” by Legal 500 Saudi Arabia 2023.

Ms. Al-Musharaf was previously a local partner with White & Case in Riyadh. She advises public and private issuers and investment banks on a broad range of capital markets transactions including equity offerings (IPOs and secondary offerings) and ongoing corporate governance and reporting obligations. She previously served as Legal Director of the Public Investment Fund Projects/NEOM Company in Riyadh. She earned an LL.M. from Harvard Law School and an LL.B. from Prince Sultan University. She is qualified to practice law in Saudi Arabia and the state of New York.

With the expansion to Riyadh, Kirkland has 20 offices around the world

Kirkland is recognized internationally for excellence and ranks number one on Law360’s Pulse Prestige Leaders report of the top 100 law firms by prominence and distinction. In 2022, the Firm ranked number one for global publicly announced mergers and acquisitions by deal count (796 deals), according to Bloomberg’s Global M&A Legal League Tables, and number one by value and number of investment funds, according to Private Equity International. Kirkland also ranked first for having the largest litigation and restructuring practices in the world according to The Lawyer’s Global Litigation Top 50 survey and Global Restructuring Review, respectively.

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