five hundred magazine > Interview with: Sadiq Jafar > The collaborative approach

The collaborative approach

The managing partner of Hadef & Partners talks about the latest growth trends in the UAE and working alongside international law firms

How are client demands in the UAE changing?

The UAE is a relatively young jurisdiction and, to support domestic growth, there is parallel development of laws and regulations, courts, arbitration centres and other soft infrastructure. This, together with the emergence of financial free zones, contributes to changing client demand patterns. The introduction of new legislation also creates new work streams.

Meanwhile, in line with global trends, fee pricing is competitive. Many clients face cost pressure and some endeavour to transfer this down the supply chain to professional service providers and other suppliers. Government and quasi-government spending represents a higher proportion of overall legal spend in Abu Dhabi as compared to Dubai. The lower oil price (in relative terms) is also unhelpful to clients operating directly or indirectly in that space. There is also increased demand in more specialised practice areas such as regulatory; technology, media, and telecommunications; sports and entertainment; health; education; transportation; financial crime; tax; and private wealth.

How are you adapting to these changes?

We work closely with our clients to maintain strong and long-term relationships. We ensure that we provide quality legal advice to reflect client demand. To do this, we must continue to attract and retain talented lawyers with deep knowledge of the laws and practices of this jurisdiction.

How do you set yourself apart from the competition in the UAE?

Our 100 lawyers in Abu Dhabi and Dubai provide depth of knowledge and scale. We also continue to perform a ‘trusted adviser’ role to a range of federal and local governmental authorities. Maintaining close relationships with governmental authorities and high-profile organisations gives us unique insight into the development of laws, regulations and practices.

We understand the laws, traditions, opportunities, and challenges of our region. Our lawyers come from a diverse range of Western and Middle Eastern backgrounds. Our market leading team of advocates has full rights of audience in all UAE courts and tribunals. As a result of the quality and diversity of our lawyers, we are often selected to advise on the most pioneering, complex, and strategic projects and transactions in the UAE.

As a full-service business law firm, we offer permanence and longevity. In addition to our strong corporate relationships, we are a go-to independent law firm for many international law firms (including those with a presence in the UAE) to provide services that may complement their own offerings. This collaborative approach results in our engagement in some of the largest transactions and disputes in the region.

Where are you seeing growth from domestic clients and those outside who are looking to invest in the UAE?

There is growth in various business sectors, such as transportation, media, technology, manufacturing, health, education, and leisure.

The new Foreign Direct Investment Law may lead to an increase in foreign investment together with restructuring of existing investments.