Lawyers from City firms attended the conference dubbed Davos in the Desert this week, despite it having been boycotted by businesses and politicians following the cold-blooded butchering of a Saudi journalist.
In a depressing example of putting profit before principles, lawyers headed to the Future Investment Initiative conference armed with their business cards (if not their souls). A large number of politicians and organisations shunned the conference following the murder of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul this month. The Saudi government initially tried to cover up the murder claiming that the journalist had left the consulate alive, but officials have now admitted that Khashoggi, who was an outspoken critic of the Saudi government, was killed on the premises. The murder has been widely condemned by global leaders - even Donald Trump was scathing, so law firms who supported the event really are low enough to parachute out of a snake's arsehole.
A Clifford Chance insider told RollOnFriday that a partner at the firm attended, but a spokesman for the Magic Circle firm declined to comment. Baker Botts and Dentons, both with offices in Riyadh, also declined to comment, with the only reasonable inference being that riyal-chasing partners at the firms rocked up to the conference too. It was reported in law.com that King & Spalding and White & Case were invited to the conference, but both firms also remained suspiciously tight-lipped when RollOnFriday asked if lawyers at those firms attended.
Pinsent Masons is the only firm to get a gold star. A spokesman for the firm said "we can confirm that a Pinsent Masons' delegate was expected to attend the summit but was unable to do so due to other commitments". It may have been down to a fortuitous diary clash. Or it may have been a fictitious one. Whatever the reason, fair play to Pinsents..
A number of firms with offices in the Middle East confirmed to RollOnFriday that they were never going to attend in the first place, including Clyde & Co, Baker McKenzie, Allen & Overy, DLA Piper, HFW, Hogan Lovells, Addleshaw Goddard, BCLP, Trowers, Freshfields and Herbert Smith Freehills.
At the time of going to press a few firms with offices in the Middle East failed to respond to repeated requests as to whether they had attended: Jones Day, Latham and Watkins, K&L Gates, Squire Patton Boggs, Linklaters, Eversheds and Simmons & Simmons. If you work at those firms and know if your colleagues propped up this blood-soaked, despotic event, please drop a line here.