UK-Listed Law Firm Launches in Middle East
U.K.-listed law firm Keystone Law has obtained approval to establish a new office in Abu Dhabi, UAE, the firm has announced.
The ADGM, the UAE capital’s international financial centre, has granted approval to the firm to establish its new office. It would be the AIM-listed firm’s first foray into the region.
The firm said in a statement that a second office in the Emirate of Dubai is “likely to follow due to strong interest from lawyers in the region who are looking to join the firm.”
Waseem Khokhar, former regional managing partner for PwC Legal Middle East, and DWF Middle East, will head up the office. Previously also a partner with DLA Piper in London, he has over 25 years’ post-qualification experience and is also a registered legal consultant with the Government of Dubai Legal Affairs Department.
“The Middle East has a vibrant and diverse legal market, which is now prime for Keystone’s unique model offering independence and flexibility to experienced lawyers,” said Khokhar. “We are currently in advanced discussions to recruit a number of excellent international lawyers to the firm.”
Law firms are joining the throng to set up business at the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), which has stolen a march on regional financial technology (FinTech) hub rivals to lead the field in the Gulf Cooperation Council, and has vowed to launch virtual asset exchanges before the end of the year.
Founded in 2002 by current CEO, James Knight, AIM-listed Keystone Law claims its ‘plug and play’ platform model disrupts “traditional law firms operating within the legal services mid-market, [permitting] rapid scalability, enabling the Group to increase the number of revenue-generating lawyers more quickly than the traditional model.”
Keystone saw revenues rise 16% in the year ended January 31, after reporting first-half revenues up 15%. It decided to cancel dividend payouts in March due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A full-service commercial law firm with a head office in London and around 350 lawyers in the UK, Keystone has an annual turnover of over £43 million, and is the U.K.’s 77th largest firm, it said in a statement.
Keystone launched operations in Australia in the name of Keypoint Law in 2013, which now has 51 lawyers with offices in Melbourne and Sydney.
Over 90 financial services providers, many with a fintech focus, are now licensed by ADGM’s oversight body, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA). The FSRA launched its framework to regulate spot crypto-asset activities, such as exchanges, custodians, and other intermediaries, in June 2018.