U.S. energy giant Vinson & Elkins has expanded its presence in the Middle East with the opening of a new office in Abu Dhabi.
The Texas-based law firm launched its first office in the region in 2003 when it opened in Dubai.
London energy partner Lewis Jones has transferred to Abu Dhabi to take on the role of administrative partner with Dubai energy partner Christopher Strong moving to join him. Another partner, Rindala Beydoun, will divide her time between Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Jones commented: "[Our] focus will continue to be on the corporate, energy, and finance sectors, advising our clients on their activities both within the region and elsewhere in the world.
"The firm has a substantial client base in the Middle East, India, and North Africa, and the UAE's proximity to these key strategic markets makes it an obvious choice for supporting our activities there."
The launch is thought to make Vinson the first U.S. law firm to have offices in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the two most established legal hubs in the fast-growing Middle East market.
Both have been the focus of growth for international firms in recent years, with Abu Dhabi in particular seeing increasing interest from U.K. firms. Allen & Overy made its debut in the capital of the United Arab Emirates this summer while both Ashurst and Herbert Smith are set to open there in 2008.
For Vinson the move also comes after a period of expansion outside its Texas heartland, with the firm in September expanding its presence in the much-coveted East Coast bankruptcy market with the acquisition of five-lawyer New York boutique Cronin & Vris.
Outside the U.S., the top 50 U.S. law firm last year secured its fourth branch in Asia with the launch of an office in Hong Kong.