09 Jul 2020

Post COVID-19 landscape for Law Firms in the UAE and the new dependence on technology

Authored by: Sadiq Jafar, LexisNexis Middle East

In this UAE Managing Partner Report with LexisNexis, Sadiq Jafar, Managing Partner, Dubai discusses the post-COVID-19 landscape for Law Firms. Find out more below:


What are the biggest challenges for your clients over the next 6 months?

Although we would very much like to believe that the majority of our clients have strong and robust business models, it is inevitable that a number will be tested by the evolving environment of reduced demand and liquidity. Maintaining positive cash-flow will be a major objective and challenge for businesses globally, and the UAE is no exception. Many entities (including some of our clients and many of their counterparties) will struggle to perform their obligations as they fall due. This will lead to an increase in disputes, restructurings and insolvencies. We also expect that the market fallout will lead to opportunities for some clients to benefit from a reset in the competitive environment. Some may seek to develop new business lines or acquire assets at distressed prices. In parallel, the large number of participants in key sectors such as transport, tourism, trade and retail will need to respond in an agile manner to the phased re-opening of business activities and borders, while controlling costs to address the impact of diminished footfall and revenues.

 
What regulatory initiative would you most welcome to support the recovery and growth of UAE businesses and/or the legal sector generally?
 
We welcome increased opportunities for foreign shareholders and investors pursuant to the Foreign Direct Investment Law, which enables up to 100% ownership in designated sectors. The government may now opt to accelerate implementation of its FDI strategy in order to bolster economic performance. This, together with the programme providing long-term residence for qualifying investors, will enhance economic activity, government revenues and the establishment of a cosmopolitan business community that is integrally committed to the long-term success of the UAE.

 
What is new with your firm?
 
Covid-19 accelerated the adoption of technology and more flexible working practices, all of which has been embraced by our lawyers and clients in the spirit of working closely together.

 
What gives your firm the edge in a competitive market?
 
Our longevity in the market, allied with the depth and scale of our full-service offering, provides a real and meaningful edge. Hadef & Partners is one of the oldest UAE law firms and has therefore navigated previous crises and economic downturns on behalf of our clients. Although each situation may have differences, we have confidence in our ability to provide the required counsel, resource and service to our clients, irrespective of the level of complexity or urgency of each advice, transaction or case. Our team of 100 lawyers understand the laws, traditions, challenges and opportunities of this region, and our large team of advocates is licensed to appear in all the courts and tribunals of the UAE, which enables us to actively support clients that pursue or defend claims.