Steven Davis

“You just drove a major global law firm into the ground. What’s next?”

“I’m going to… Disney World Ras al Khaimah!”

“Ras al what? Why do you hate Batman?

Congratulations to Steven Davis, the former chairman of now-defunct Dewey & LeBoeuf, who recently landed a new job. As we mentioned earlier today, he has been appointed chief legal officer to the government of Ras al Khaimah, one of seven semi-autonomous emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates.

What could be drawing Steven to Arabia? And what are the downsides of the move?

On the positive side of the ledger, it sounds like an interesting job. Here’s the report by Jennifer Smith for the Wall Street Journal:

[I]n December, Mr. Davis, an energy lawyer by training, resurfaced in Ras al Khaimah, where he was appointed chief legal officer to the government by the emirate’s ruler, Sheik Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, according to an internal government memo reviewed by The Wall Street Journal….

According to the memo, which was dated Dec. 8, 2013, Mr. Davis will establish and oversee a legal affairs department for Ras al Khaimah’s government within the emirate’s investment and development office.

Mr. Davis will also serve as acting chief executive officer for that office, which implements economic policy, manages the government’s balance sheet and oversees strategic investment in the region.

Here’s an idea for Davis: get the United Arab Emirates to merge with Qatar, so the UAE can get in on some of that World Cup action. Davis’s track record on mergers is quite… spectacular.

This move offers additional advantages for Davis. The most obvious one, of course, is the paycheck. Davis hasn’t been working since Dewey’s demise, as far as we know, and he has sizable debts to pay: a $511,000 settlement of mismanagement-related claims, plus lots of legal fees.

A secondary advantage: the UAE doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the United States (which is why some people suggested it as a destination for Edward Snowden). With each passing day, it seems less and less likely that criminal charges will be filed against Davis (who denies any wrongdoing). But at least one investigation, the Manhattan DA’s probe, might still be open — so it’s smart for Davis to move beyond the reach of the long arm of the law.

One downside for an openly gay man like Steve Davis: the UAE, while not as bad as Uganda, isn’t the best place for gays. So Davis should keep his sex life on the down low, i.e., underneath his burqa (metaphorically, not literally; cross-dressing is illegal under Sharia law).

Another downside: as noted by the WSJ and Am Law Daily, Ras al Khaimah isn’t as rich as Abu Dhabi and Dubai. So don’t expect Davis to be living a Sex and the City 2 lifestyle out there.

Ras al Khaimah might not have major oil money, but its corporate flagship, RAK Ceramics, is one of the world’s biggest ceramic makers. So good luck and take care, Mr. Davis; this time around, you break it, you buy it.

Former Head of Dewey & LeBoeuf to Advise Middle Eastern Emirate [Wall Street Journal]
Former Dewey Chairman Heads to Legal Post in United Arab Emirates [WSJ Law Blog]
Ex-chair of bankrupt Dewey law firm tapped as a top UAE legal adviser [Reuters]
Ex-Dewey Leader Davis Lands In-House Job with Arab Emirate [Am Law Daily]
Former Dewey chairman lands a new job [ABA Journal]


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