Finalists: Al-Ansari & Associates; Bird & Bird; DIFC Wills & Probate Registry; Shelf Drilling (Highly Commended); Total Marketing Middle East.

The Bench FZE’s creative business model that helps cut legal costs and gives lawyers a greater share of client fees saw it grab the innovation award title.

Set up in the UAE last year, The Bench is able to offer cheaper rates to clients because it is free from high overheads such as offices, meaning clients pay roughly half the price for senior lawyers than they would at a big law firm. The firm’s lawyers have the flexibility to pick their own work and are paid a significant chunk of client fees (between 65% to 85%), an arrangement The Bench reckons is unique in the Middle East.

The firm is also able to offer larger law firms efficient and inexpensive specialist support, removing the need to hire specialists in areas that are handled infrequently. And The Bench prides itself on having substantial in-house experience so its lawyers can blend in seamlessly with its clients’ in-house teams.

“As a UAE startup themselves, they understand the need for a cost-effective and commercial approach when advising the startup community,” said Paul Kenny, founder of, who lists The Bench as his go-to law firm in the region.

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