The 2019 winners of the Middle East Legal Awards, the region’s premier legal awards that celebrate outstanding achievement within the profession, were announced at a grand event held at the Ritz-Carlton, Dubai. The legal departments of Accenture Middle East and Flash Entertainment emerged as the big winners, claiming the prestigious Legal Department of the Year - Large Team and Legal Department of the Year - Small Team awards respectively.
The award for General Counsel of the Year – Large Team went to Kiran Scarr of DMCC, while Justin Dowding of noon.com received the award for General Counsel of the Year – Small Team. Iryna Kovalchuk from Zakher Marine International was named the General Counsel of the Year – Sole Regional Counsel.
In the Private Practice categories, Eversheds Sutherland was named International Law Firm of the Year, while BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates LLP won the title of Regional Law Firm of the Year. The award for the Regulatory and Investigations Team of the Year went to Al Tamimi & Company. DLA Piper received two awards, TMT Team of the Year and Litigation Team of the Year; Charles Russell Speechlys was named the Real Estate Team of the Year, and Pinsent Masons accepted the award for the Construction Team of the Year.
John Malpas, Publishing Director, Legal Week, said, “The Middle East Legal Awards have become a benchmark of excellence for the region’s legal industry. The winners are chosen after a great deal of deliberation by an independent panel comprising of the most senior and innovative leaders from the sector. This year's winning entries highlighted the high standard of legal work being undertaken by legal departments and law firms In the Middle East across a range of sectors and disciplines.”
The Middle East Legal Awards, jointly hosted by London-based business law news website, Legal Week, and the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) Middle East, are open to all law firms and in-house legal departments with a presence in the region. The awards ceremony followed the Corporate Counsel Forum Middle East where industry leaders shared vital insights across a range of key sectors to encourage and incite personal development, innovation and strategic thinking.
The 2019 edition of the awards saw the introduction of seven new categories. Amongst the new categories, DMCC claimed two of the awards, namely, the Compliance Innovator of the Year and In-House Community Team of the Year. Accenture received its second award this year for the Best Use of Technology, while Unilever secured the In-House Deal Team of the Year award. The Rising Star Award – In-House went to Giuseppe Ostuni of First Abu Dhabi Bank, and the Rising Star Award – Private Practice was given to Sara Koleilat-Aranjo of Al Tamimi & Company. Victoria Smylie, an Associate at Davidson & Co Legal, was selected as the Most Prominent Newcomer – Private Practice.
The awards for the Banking and Finance Team of the Year and CSR Initiative of the Year went to Dentons. Baker McKenzie also won two awards – Corporate Team of the Year and Infrastructure and Energy Projects Team of the Year.
Additional winners included Support Legal Limited, which won the award for Alternate Service Provider of the Year; and Hadef and Partners received the Arbitration Team of the Year award.
The awards’ judging panel was chaired by Anneliese Reinhold, General Counsel & Senior Vice President – Legal & Regulatory Affairs, du and Vice-Chair of the ACC Global Board of Directors. Judging this year’s awards was certainly not an easy task for the Panel given the impressive standard of entries. The breadth and depth of legal talent across the Region is evident, and just reaching the shortlist is an achievement in itself. Sincere congratulations to all of the very deserving 2019 winners’.