Minister of Justice Walid Al-Samaani and Minister of Investment Khaled Al-Falih presented the documents to Herbert Smith Freehills, Latham & Watkins and Clifford Chance.
These are the first such licenses to be granted since the Council of Ministers approved amendments to the Code of Law Practice on the subject. The ministry had previously approved implementing regulations for licensing foreign law firms.
With the rule change, the justice minister aims to develop the legal profession, raise the efficiency of its practitioners and improve the business and investment environment in the Kingdom.
Joza Alrasheed, managing partner of the law office of Joza Alrasheed in partnership with Herbert Smith Freehills, told Arab News: “This is a historical day for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia today as we are celebrating the licensing of foreign international firms. This is in line with Vision 2030 and the giga-projects that the Kingdom is now leading and also the bespoke projects that it will continue to do.
“I think the key point and drive of this initiative is to transfer the global knowledge of very renowned international law firms to train and develop the skill sets of our young generation and young future lawyers to pave the way for the future.”
Alrasheed said being the first Saudi female to become a partner of a global law firm was a “very new step,” and she hoped “many more of my colleagues and females would be in the same position.”
Clifford Chance and Abuhimed Alsheikh Alhagbani Law Firm also announced their agreement to enter into a 50-50 joint venture, and they will be now known as AS&H Clifford Chance.
Clifford Chance is one of the world’s pre-eminent law firms, with significant depth and range of resources across five continents and a strong client base that includes leading corporates, financial investors, governments, regulators, trade bodies and not-for-profit organizations.
It has had an on the ground presence in Saudi Arabia for many decades in a variety of forms and has operated in cooperation with AS&H since November 2016. The cooperation has been highly successful and a key part of Clifford Chance’s market-leading Middle East practice.
AS&H is the leading law firm in Saudi Arabia and has a deep bench of 64 Saudi nationals and internationally qualified lawyers who are specialists across a range of practice areas including corporate, banking and finance, debt and equity capital markets, antitrust, regulatory, public policy, litigation and dispute resolution, real estate, construction and public-private partnerships.
In conjunction with Clifford Chance, AS&H has amassed a wealth of experience in Saudi Arabia and has led the market in developing many of the features of existing market practice.
The team regularly advises key Saudi ministries and government-owned entities as well as a wide range of government owned, privately and publicly held Saudi and international businesses, listed companies and financial institutions. The firm has a strong track record of advising on some of the most innovative and groundbreaking transactions in Saudi Arabia.
Dr. Fahad Abuhimed, AS&H Clifford Chance managing partner, said: “This exciting new joint venture further cements the unique relationship that Clifford Chance and AS&H have enjoyed for the last six years in the Kingdom and which has created an unrivaled legal powerhouse in Saudi Arabia.”
Charles Adams, Clifford Chance Global managing partner said: “We are delighted to be creating an even stronger and more integrated Saudi offering through our new joint venture arrangement with AS&H. We look forward to working together in continuing to provide our local, regional and global clients with the highest quality advice and support in this exceptionally dynamic and fast-growing market.”