Lateral Moves Turn Baker Botts Into Dominant Legal Force in Middle East

Corporate and Disputes Practice Group Joins Firm in Dubai, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, July 16, 2013 /PRNewswire — A highly-regarded group of lawyers with accumulated experience of more than a century of practice in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries — including eight partners who specialize in a wide range of transactional and dispute matters — joined Baker Botts L.L.P. today. The lawyers will work from firm offices in Dubai, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

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The Middle East group — a total of 14 lawyers and a significant number of support staff — moved to the firm from Norton Rose Fulbright. It includes John Lonsberg, who established Fulbright & Jaworski’s presence in the Middle East when he joined Fulbright in 2005 and served as the partner in charge of that firm’s Middle East practice; fellow partners Mark Bisch, Jonathan Sutcliffe, Joseph Colagiovanni, Hassan Elsayed, Richard Devine and Philip Punwar in Dubai, and Sam Eversman in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

This move, along with the alliance agreement signed with the International Legal Group in Kuwait earlier this year, enhances Baker Botts’ reputation as a significant legal force in the region and allows the firm to provide an even broader range of service and capabilities to clients. This includes providing extensive counsel to foreign companies active in Kuwait and the UAE or Kuwait- and UAE-based companies active internationally.

“This team — considered ‘go-to’ choices for any business requiring legal counsel in the Middle East — has extensive experience in the region over a wide range of industry segments and practice areas that goes back for more than 30 years,” said Baker Botts Managing Partner Andrew Baker. “They are frequently referred to as ‘the region’s lawyers,’ and we are pleased to have them join the firm and our Middle East team. This affirms our commitment to having a strong presence in the region and to support clients, whether based in the Middle East or elsewhere, regarding their business interests in the region.”

The new lawyers joining Baker Botts focus primarily on corporate and commercial transactions, regulatory and compliance, project finance, international arbitration and dispute resolution matters, and local law across a range of industries, including energy, technology, aviation and defense, construction, hospitality and consumer products with the added dimension of anti-bribery and related corporate compliance and internal investigations.

With this move, Baker Botts now has 40 lawyers in its Middle East offices, giving it one of the largest team of any U.S.-headquartered firm in the region. Baker Botts has more than 700 lawyers in 14 offices around the world.

The group collectively brings multiple decades of experience serving international and locally-based clients throughout the region. They are well-versed in local law and business custom and have developed long-term relationships with Middle East-based businesses and government entities.

“This group of talented and experienced lawyers will cement our position as one of the dominant legal forces in the region,” said Robert Jordan, former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Partner in Charge of the firm’s Middle East practice. “This team significantly enhances our ongoing efforts to build a broad portfolio of capabilities in the Middle East in order to help clients address the growing demand for sophisticated legal services on a wide array of complex issues.”

Jamie Baker, International Partner for Baker Botts, said, “Over many years we have become familiar with John and several of his partners and their ability to successfully represent clients on transactions and disputes across the GCC countries. It was always clear that we share similar approaches to the practice of law. We see a lot of synergy with the group and look forward to expanding the services we can offer our collective client base.”

Lonsberg said, “I knew the firm was interested in growing its platform and practices, and I saw our team’s 30 years presence in the Middle East as a full complement to what Baker Botts has developed here in recent years.”

Michael Goldberg, co-chair of the International Arbitration and Dispute Resolution practice at Baker Botts, said, “We are excited about bringing on board this top-notch dispute resolution group in the Middle East. Jonathan and Philip and their team, when added to our existing practice, continues our expansion around the world in order to assist our clients with quality and experience with disputes which is second to none.”

The group joining Baker Botts has received recognition from publications that annually evaluate the legal profession. In the 2013 Chambers Global rankings, for instance, the Middle East practice was recognized for representing a major local energy company in a high-profile joint venture with a Chinese counterpart.

Beyond the natural resources sector, Chambers editors wrote, “the group is also well-known for its experience in defense and security work and counsels several multinationals on their regional activities.”

The following are interviews with firm leadership concerning the Middle East announcement.

Andrew Baker, Managing Partner

Jamie Baker, International Partner

Van Beckwith, Partner in Charge – Recruiting

Michael Goldberg, Co-Chair – International Arbitration and Dispute Resolution

Robert Jordan, Partner in Charge – Middle East

John Lonsberg, Partner

About Baker Botts L.L.P.
Baker Botts is an international law firm of approximately 700 lawyers practicing throughout a network of 14 offices around the globe. Based on our experience and knowledge of our clients’ industries, we are recognized as a leading firm in the energy, technology and life sciences sectors. Throughout our 173-year history, we have provided creative and effective legal solutions for our clients while demonstrating an unrelenting commitment to excellence. For more information, please visit www.bakerbotts.com.

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Background on Baker Botts’ new Middle East partners

John Lonsberg

John has been engaged in an international transaction, regulatory and dispute resolution practice since 1979. He has particular experience in the Middle East starting in 1980, where he continues to practice extensively today. He has also practiced throughout Asia and Europe since the mid-1980′s and was a resident in London for part of that time.

Mark Bisch

Mark Bisch is an advisor to international and domestic clients on their operations throughout the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. Mark has more than a decade of experience residing and working in the Middle East. Clients rely on Mark’s expertise in advising on a wide range of international commercial transactions, including joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, corporate formations and governance, banking and finance matters, real estate and construction, technology transactions, intellectual property issues, labor and immigration matters and resolution of international disputes.

Joseph Colagiovanni

Joe Colagiovanni practices in Dubai and St. Louis. His practice centers on construction, architectural, engineering and development law (including related finance), both domestically and internationally. He has been involved in major construction projects, including utility and infrastructure systems, bridges and roadways, water treatment and distribution facilities, large-scale commercial and residential complexes, industrial and manufacturing facilities, hospitals, hotel and resort developments, power plants, renovation and rehabilitation of historic structures, research facilities, museums and entertainment complexes.

Richard Devine

Richard Devine represents clients doing business in the Middle East and internationally. His practice is principally focused on energy and covers the spectrum of energy matters. Richard works in the firm’s Dubai and Abu Dhabi locations and has counseled energy clients on a variety of transactions related to upstream oil and gas, energy M&A, energy regulation, energy transportation and energy trading. He has lived and worked in London, Cairo and Dubai.

Hassan Mostafa Kamel Elsayed

Hassan Mostafa Kamel Elsayed has broad corporate and commercial law experience in the Middle East, including international arbitration, litigation, international commercial and corporate matters, joint ventures and government procurement and claims. He works across the entire Middle East and North African region and has experience that includes handling a large number of arbitrations on behalf of Egyptian industries before the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris and local arbitration and litigation.

Sam Eversman

Sam Eversman focuses his practice on international transactions, corporate and project finance, joint ventures, intellectual property transfers and Saudi income tax for clients doing business in the Middle East. He also has experience in assisting Middle Eastern clients (both governments and businesses) with transactions and disputes outside the Middle East. He regularly assists businesses with the exploration, structuring, establishing and conducting of operations in the Middle East.

Philip Punwar

Philip Punwar was called to the Bar of England & Wales by the Honorable Society of the Inner Temple in 1989. He practiced as a Barrister in London until November 2005, when he joined a leading regional dispute resolution law firm based in the Dubai International Financial Centre. Philip has appeared as counsel in a wide range of domestic and international proceedings in court and arbitration.

Jonathan Sutcliffe

Jonathan Sutcliffe has significant experience in international arbitration and dispute resolution and has represented clients on a diverse range of international commercial arbitration, ADR and litigation matters in the energy, construction, hospitality, real estate, defense, insurance, international joint venture and film sectors and on investor-state disputes. Jonathan also sits as an arbitrator.

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