Kirkland & Ellis, the international law firm boasting a formidable team of 3,500 lawyers across the U.S., the UK, Europe, and Asia, has set its sights on the Middle East with the establishment of a new office in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This strategic move is designed to provide enhanced support to Kirkland’s ever-expanding roster of both current and potential clients in Saudi Arabia and the broader region.
The Riyadh office is seen as a pivotal step for Kirkland & Ellis, as it recognizes the significance of Saudi Arabia in the global business landscape. The Kingdom, marked by its remarkable economic growth and rapid modernization, holds immense potential for Kirkland’s clientele. According to Jon A. Ballis, Chairman of Kirkland’s Executive Committee, “Saudi Arabia is an important market requiring sophisticated legal services for international business. At the same time, the Kingdom is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and a rapidly modernizing country that is becoming increasingly significant for Kirkland’s client base. Our Riyadh office will help us to serve our many clients with operations in and interests across Saudi Arabia and throughout the Middle East.”
The milestone achievement of being granted a Foreign Law License by the Saudi Ministry of Justice allows Kirkland to operate directly within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The new Riyadh office serves not only as a valuable addition to the firm’s global network but also as its Regional Headquarters. Leading this strategic endeavor is Kirkland’s seasoned corporate partner, Kamran Bajwa (pictured), who brings over two decades of experience in handling complex international legal matters in the Middle East and emerging markets. Further strengthening the Riyadh launch are two highly esteemed Saudi lawyers, Noor Al-Fawzan and Manal Al-Musharaf, both distinguished as leading women in the Saudi legal profession, who have joined Kirkland as partners.
Kamran Bajwa, expressing his enthusiasm for the Riyadh venture, stated, “Riyadh is an ideal location to serve the diverse interests and needs of our clients. The creative, business-minded approaches for which Kirkland lawyers are known are critical for the complex transactions our clients undertake in Saudi Arabia, which is one of the most dynamic and fast-paced markets in the world. I am excited for the opportunity to build the Riyadh office and regional headquarters, expand Kirkland’s reach, and get to work on the ground for our clients in this region.”
Bajwa’s extensive experience in the Middle East includes eight years of living in the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. He also held the position of Chief Legal Officer for the leading investment bank in the MENA region and has been a partner with Kirkland, leading its Middle East practice since 2011.
Noor Al-Fawzan, formerly with Latham & Watkins, is now an integral part of Kirkland. She brings her expertise in M&A, joint ventures, and general corporate matters, all with a Saudi nexus. Her previous experience as legal counsel in the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), an arm of the World Bank Group, further bolsters her profile. She is qualified to practice law in Saudi Arabia and the state of New York.
Manal Al-Musharaf, previously a local partner with White & Case in Riyadh, specializes in advising public and private issuers and investment banks on a wide range of capital markets transactions, including equity offerings (IPOs and secondary offerings), as well as ongoing corporate governance and reporting obligations. Her past role as Legal Director of the Public Investment Fund Projects/NEOM Company in Riyadh contributes to her comprehensive understanding of the Saudi business landscape. She, too, is qualified to practice law in Saudi Arabia and the state of New York.
With this strategic expansion into Riyadh, Kirkland & Ellis now boasts a global network comprising 20 offices around the world.