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Lawyers…10 reasons to move to Dubai (and 5 reasons to think twice)

Lawyers…10 reasons to move to Dubai (and 5 reasons to think twice)

Lawyers…10 reasons to move to Dubai (and 5 reasons to think twice)

The market is buoyant again and there are opportunities galore for lawyers from international firms.  Here are some of the key advantages of a move to the Gulf's highest profile destination:

  1. High-quality cross-border work with UK/US/Global law firms advising international and major regional clients.
  2. Typically more diverse legal work leading to a more interesting and rounded practice
  3. Smaller teams = greater responsibility = faster career development
  4. More client contact earlier, invaluable in developing the skills and relationships which are essential as you become more senior
  5. Experience in this key international region is marketable globally, opening up a subsequent move to London, Asia or elsewhere in the world…but…
  6. Many firms are reaching sufficient size in the region to offer promotion right through to Partnership so there is no compulsion to leave for career progression
  7. Forecasts of substantial long-term growth in the market mean that the region is likely to remain central to international law firm plans
  8. City level tax-free salaries.  A salary of £80k in Dubai is roughly the same as the take home pay from a salary of £130k in London.  A salary of £90k in Dubai nets you the equivalent of around £150k in London
  9. Dubai is an international hub and offers opportunities to travel easily across the wider region and back home
  10. Lifestyle advantages for anyone who likes the sunshine!

As with anywhere though, it pays to beware some of the pitfalls so we would advise you to:

  1. Choose your firm carefully – some big legal brands are less established in Dubai and may struggle to offer the calibre of exposure that you would expect from them in London
  2. Be wary of firms that only service referral work from other offices – the lack of a regional client base makes them more vulnerable and may limit your opportunities
  3. Consider when you go and how long you stay.  Moving as a more senior associate may delay Partnership prospects in London as you will have been out of the market (irrelevant if you aim to strive for Partnership in Dubai of course) 
  4. Don’t believe the brochures!  It’s not perfect.  For most, the heat, traffic, construction, and eccentricities of life in another culture are outweighed by the many positives, but rest assured that the average ex-pat lawyer in Dubai will have their moans too
  5. Don’t expect an easy ride. The hours are likely to be as demanding as they would be with the equivalent firm in London 

Jason Horobin has been helping lawyers to move to the Middle East since 2000. For more information or to discuss opportunities please contact him by email at [email protected]

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