(L-R) Awards host Shadia Bseiso; Amna Al Jallaf, managing parter, Al Jallaf Advocates & Legal Consultants; Natalie Hill, key account manager, Legal Week

Finalists: Afridi & Angell; Davidson & Co; Global Advocacy and Legal Counsel; Tribonian Law Advisors (In Association with Rindala Beydoun Legal Consultancy).

UAE-based Al Jallaf Advocates & Legal Consultants stood out as the region’s small law firm of the year, for its efforts to show that a local boutique practice can go shoulder to shoulder with the world’s biggest law firms.

With just one office, seven fee earners and one partner, Al Jallaf has taken on its larger, better-resourced competitors, reinventing itself as a specialist aviation, banking and commercial disputes boutique – a strategy it says is intended to bridge the gap between international quality and local expertise. During the past year, Al Jallaf has doubled the number of new instructions to 144, equivalent to 18 per fee earner.

Those clients include three international banks, a large investment house, two national flag carriers and a leading budget airline. And after being appointed to the panel of one of the UAE’s state-owned telecommunication operators in 2015, it is now representing the company in all of its major local civil and criminal disputes. Al Jallaf chalks these achievements up to pooling its limited resources on the firm’s ‘bridging the gap’ strategy, allowing it to consistently punch above its weight.

“Great presence and diversity for a ‘small’ firm. Bridging the gap is a fantastic idea,” a judge commented.

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