Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank appointed its first general counsel in January, an Olswang partner named Simon Copleston. When he arrived there were three lawyers at the bank who specialized in debt collection work, and oil was pushing $140 a barrel. Copleston quickly added seven more lawyers, thereby creating a legal team called the general counsel’s office, according to Corp. Counsel, Vol. 15, Dec. 2008 at 111. In an interview he said that he has space for one more senior lawyer.
The busy general counsel also selected ten firms to serve on a general panel, one American firm (Reed Smith), eight UK firms, and one Middle East firm (Al Tamimi & Company).
All of these steps fall quite in line with what law departments do in the United States and Europe. Law department management knows no geographic boundaries. Today, however, with crude selling for $90 a barrel less, I hope that rapid build-up and investment of management time in Abu Dhabi gushes with productivity.