07 June 2018
Trowers is experiencing an exodus of staff from its Middle East offices, according to RollOnFriday sources.

Insiders said that a drop in oil prices and wider uncertainty has contributed to difficult trading conditions in the region, where Trowers has offices in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dubai and Oman. The offices have significantly underperformed in the last financial year, according to sources, billing around £4m less than in 2016/17.

A spokeswoman for the firm, which posted a 13% increase in revenue to £97m in 2016/17, said "we are pleased with our financial results for last year". She said "We are still working on the figures but early indications are that (despite exchange rate movements in the period) we believe that our turnover grew by more than 5% overall to take us to over £100m turnover, and we expect this to result in an increase in our overall profits". She added, "Our Middle East practice is an important part of our overall business and shares in and contributes to this success".
 
The Dubai office has been hit particularly hard, said an insider, resulting in personnel cuts and voluntary departures. The entire Dubai International Dispute Resolution team was working out its notice, said a source, as was the International head of HR, who only relocated to Dubai from London last year. Trowers also recently sent its Birmingham office manager and its former head of marketing to the Middle East to examine the support staff function and identify where efficiency savings could be made. Their report has not yet been delivered, but sources told RollOnFriday that secretaries have been waiting to be fired for around two months, and at least one can be found “crying in HR offices on an almost daily basis”. 

    Trowers wrestling with Success Camel, yesterday. 

The redundancies, said a source, were partly due to a significant drop in the number of instructions from a major client, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). Adding to stress levels was the decision by the Dubai office to serve notice on its current lease without having received permission to relocate to new premises, creating "significant anxiety”.

The relationship with London of one of the region’s senior managers has deteriorated to such an extent, said insiders, that when Managing Partner Jennie Gubbins recently visited Bahrain for three days he planned a last minute marketing trip to Dubai, which she had just left. Sources told RollOnFriday that staff in the Middle East offices felt under scrutiny, and that morale was at an all-time low thanks to “London’s apparent reluctance to do anything other than make further cuts". 

Trowers' spokeswoman said, "It would be inappropriate for us to comment on individual staff matters, but we can confirm that we have agreed terms to move our Dubai office to a new business location and ADNOC remains an important client of the firm". Things may be bleak in the Middle East, but UK staff who took the RollOnFriday Firm of the Year 2018 survey were very happy. They awarded Trowers an overall score of 79%, landing it in 8th place.
Tip Off ROF

Comments

Anonymous 08 Jun 18

Trowers has long lost its first mover advantage, as firms with better skilled and experienced lawyers and firms have moved in and taken business away. Since inception Trowers has used the Middle East as a dumping ground for lawyers unable technically and skills wise to cut it in London. End result - patchy quality and an over reliance on those few able individuals with good skill sets and business winning capabilities keeping the practice just afloat, that is until they decide to find pastures new.

Anonymous 08 Jun 18

Couldn't be any more accurate...even the tea boy got made redundant. Fee earners have to run out of meetings and make coffee for clients themselves.

Anonymous 08 Jun 18

That explains why the client partner is taking ADNOC out for lunch on a weekly basis! Surely a free sarnie from the Hilton Beach Club can't win you any more work?

Anonymous 09 Jun 18

Head office has concluded the swamp needs to be drained and the current senior crop have to go. They've placed a partner spy in the UAE who's as inexperienced and unqualified as the rest of them."Trowers has used the Middle East as a dumping ground for lawyers unable technically and skills wise to cut it in London [like the current spy they've placed in the UAE]. End result - patchy quality and an over reliance on those few able individuals with good skill sets and business winning capabilities keeping the practice just afloat, that is until they decide to find pastures new"

Anonymous 10 Jun 18

The swamp’s underperformance has been tolerated for many years partly on the basis that the U.K. inbound work from the ME would dry up if the practice was downsized, offices closed etc. It’s a bit of a myth that has surprisingly persisted. At long last it looks like London has grasped the mettle. London has swampy areas that also need draining - too many underperforming senior partners coasting on inherited clients drawing way more than their contribution merits and towards their fat retirement annuities.

Anonymous 10 Jun 18

Very surprising! Especially given that they recently threw a lavish party at the Jumeriah Beach Hotel with a collosal fireworks display that lit up the Burj al Arab

Anonymous 11 Jun 18

Don’t think it will take partner spy long to work it out.
2338 - the swamp in London is more extensive than you speculate. The SP has got her work cut out rolling back the senior guys fat who all get paid the same roughly (not great incentivisation to strive harder) and are fairly unsackable or demotable except in fairly exceptional circumstances. Mutawi who was a star in Trowers ME practice a few years back - couldn’t they do with his kind now - had clearly had enough of the benign socialism and favouritism regime.

Please note that comments are subject to moderation.