US Export Council - Dubai, Surging Demand For U.S Experienced Attorneys in the UAE

Lawyer salaries in the UAE, especially in the banking and financial services sector, are clearly on the rise, climbing to an average of US$23,000 per month for a Head of Legal
By: Lance Morris
Oct. 14, 2008 - PRLog -- Western-qualified, bilingual Arabic-English lawyers are the most sought after and command the highest salaries with packages in some cases reaching 244,000 dirhams ($66,310) per month.

Overall, the results show that the highest paid lawyers qualified in North America, followed closely by England and Wales. At the Head of Legal level, however, an England and Wales qualification places one at the top of the pay scale, while lawyers who qualified in the Indian subcontinent remain the lowest paid on average.

“By and large, lawyers who qualified in US or Europe, including the UK, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, are paid more than those from the MENA region or the Subcontinent.

However, on an average, salaries of lawyers in this Gulf nation, especially in the banking and financial services sector, are on the rise.

The survey found that the average salary for the head of a company's legal department now stood at ($22,327) a month.

While last year's survey results showed the real estate sector paying some of the highest salaries at non-head of legal department level, this year has seen a shift to some of the highest salaries been paid in the banking and financial services, IT and Telecom sectors.

The survey, which covered 194 lawyers across various organisations in the UAE, found that salaries of ($35,396) to over ($40,842) per month are becoming less unusual with 20 percent of heads of legal departments now being paid more than ($27,225) a month.

"The salary increases since last year are due in part to a significant shortage of qualified lawyers in the market and the high demand for in-house lawyers in the UAE as shown by the fact that more than 75 percent of heads of department plan to recruit and expand their departments, especially in Abu Dhabi with its dramatic expansion plans," Justin A. Connor, acting chairman of DCCG, said in the statement.

He pointed out that other drivers behind pay increases include the increased cost of living and the depreciation of the US dollar, which reduce the value of compensation packages, putting further upward pressure on salaries.

"We expect the war for talent to continue with salaries likely to rise even further, especially for those with applicable regional experience," he added.

The survey also found that UAE employers pay for experience, showing a direct correlation between salary and the number of years since qualifying as a lawyer, otherwise as post-qualification experience (PQE).

The average salary for lawyers who qualified less than four years earlier is ($8,439), with the highest salary reported in this range being ($17,968) in the banking and financial services sector.

The highest salary reported for the 5-7 years PQE range is ($25,590) per month, again in the banking and finance sector.

In the 8-10 years PQE range, the highest salary reported is ($31,307) a month, and this figure appeared both in banking and financial services sector and in regional conglomerates.

Most of the respondents to the survey said that they were satisfied with their roles and compensation.

David Altman, Director at the US Export Council in New York, reported  this week that they had registered 18 New York and West Coast based Attorneys and Investment Bankers. "They have experience and expertise with Sarbanes-Oxley, Foreign Company Compliance, M&A, Investment Banking, Litigation, Corporate, Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law." said Altman. "They will be attending our 4th Annual CEO Forum in Dubai in March 09 and use it as platform to experience the country, fact find and network. Most will have set up interviews with recruiters in Dubai ahead of time" said Altman

Note: Founded in June 2007, the Dubai Corporate Counsel Group (DCCG) is the first group in-house counsel in the Middle East.  Led by its 12-member Steering Committee, the DCCG has quickly established itself as a leading regional legal organisation. The DCCG has more than 75 members and has established valuable partnerships with leading international and national law firms, executive search firms and publishers. The DCCG was created by in-house counsel themselves coming together to promote the in-house practice of law in the Gulf. The DCCG is a critical part of the explosive growth of the legal sector in this exciting, dynamic and fast-developing region.

Founded in 2004, Tessera Executive Search has conducted over 400 successful MENA searches across a number of industries and functions including legal, oil & gas, real estate & construction, life sciences and the FMCG and retail sectors.  Headquartered in Dubai it reaches candidates on a global basis through its office in Canada and partnership offices in several continents. It stands out as the premium headhunter in the legal sphere in the MENA region.

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The US Export Council provides assistance to American firms seeking access to international export markets and investment in the Gulf States and Middle East.
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Tags:Attorneys, Lawyers, Employment, Jobs, Recruiters, Head Hunters, The Gulf, Dubai, Uae, Us Export Council, David Altman
Industry:Accounting, Banking, Legal
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