Awards host Shadia Bseiso (left) and Omar Kabbani, director, Fox Rodney Search (far right); with the DLA Piper team

Finalists: Ashurst; Baker McKenzie; Clifford Chance (Highly Commended); Dentons; DWF; Eversheds Sutherland; Hogan Lovells; Holman Fenwick Willan.

DLA Piper’s ambitions to become one of the biggest global law firms in the Middle East saw it fend off stiff competition to claim the international firm of the year award.

As the only global firm with offices in all GCC countries, DLA Piper has been expanding in the region by building up its practice groups and recently opening offices in Jeddah and Al Khobar. The firm has also seen its regional fee income grow, not through hiking charge-out rates, but by investing in legal technology that has improved service delivery, such as an artificial intelligence tool that provides faster and more accurate document review.

Another part of the regional expansion plan is to boost client relationships by encouraging its lawyers to better understand what its clients need, through workshops and training. That has helped it win significant mandates, such as advising Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources on its renewable energy programme, and the Saudi Electricity Company on its $1.2bn heat and power project joint venture with Saudi Aramco.

“DLA’s breadth of capabilities and regional experience seems to be paying dividends in terms key client wins for some of the most sought-after projects in the region,” a judge noted.

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