Watson Farley & Williams (WFW) launched in the Middle East today with the opening of an office in Dubai.

The firm's new base in the Emirates will be led by the firm’s former City-based partner Andrew Baird, who moved to Dubai in April to help facilitate the new branch opening.

Speaking to The Lawyer, Baird said the launch had been driven by client demand for an on the ground presence in the region.

Having begun his legal career at the UK outfit, Baird then spent ten years at Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) before returning to WFW in 2011. His focus is on asset, Islamic and project finance.

Two associates will work alongside Baird in Dubai and will focus on finance, maritime and offshore work.

Asset finance, particularly shipping and aviation, is a speciality of the firm. It represents banks and shipping companies in the Middle East.