This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.
Following on from our final trip of 2019 to the UAE, please see below for an overview of the legal market so far this year and heading towards 2020.
At the beginning of 2019, the market in corporate was fairly patchy across the region, with many firms needing to seek internal sign off even for replacement hires. Going into summer, the reverse was true with the majority of our clients reporting that this summer was unusually busy. This was reflected from a recruitment perspective, as we were mandated on many new roles whereas usually recruitment activity slows over the summer months. Going towards the end of the year, a large amount of firms are hiring for their corporate teams, and some firms are even looking at growing their teams. This leaves us feeling optimistic for 2020, as M&A activity is usually a good indicator of the market overall.
This year, banking and finance does seem to have been a little quieter than corporate however, with some firms reporting that their banking teams have found it to be a tough market. Most of our roles are in project finance, as opposed to general lending or Islamic finance. Similarly, the projects, energy and non-contentious construction market is booming, with many firms hiring across the UAE and Saudi. Oil and gas experience is still proving to be very valuable, with an increase in specific private practice and In-House opportunities in this space. This remains an extremely candidate short area with some of our clients hiring for multiple associates in projects and energy.
On the contentious front, construction disputes remains a key area for many firms, with hiring being consistent throughout the year. Commercial disputes has slowed down over the summer, however in the first half of the year there was a lot of interest in associates with experience in investigations and white collar crime, with some firms even finding those skills by hiring members of the UK Bar.
Niche practice areas such as commercial TMT, real estate and employment have been ticking over, most firms hiring only for replacements.