Introduction: Shariah Law Firms

What has been the role of law firms in the development of the Shariah Finance market?

A handful of Law Firms such as Patton Boggs, Gerstyn Savage, King & Spalding, together with Index Firms like Dow Jones and Standard and Poors were essential developers of the Shariah Finance market in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.  Without their involvement, the Shariah Finance market would be inconsequential today.

Why are Law Firms so important to this industry?

The investment industry, perhaps more so than any other industry, relies heavily on the counsel of Law Firms to ensure the legality of every investment they create and sell with the goal of being within legal limits of all government regulations and laws; and in doing so, avoiding damaging lawsuits by investors, shareholders, competitors, and others.

On what basis is the statement that Law firms were critical in the development of the Shariah Finance market being made?

The majority of Islamic Investment conferences are hosted or moderated by Law Firms (together with index firms like Standard and Poors or Dow Jones) who have positioned themselves as legal specialists in this market. The goal of these law firms is to brand themselves as eminent legal advisors in this new market in order to capture the business of any client involved in Shariah Finance. This ranges from the billion dollar Sovereign Wealth Funds of Dubai, Abu Dhabi that are providing seed money to create the Shariah Finance market, to billion dollar hedge funds looking to diversify in the Shariah Finance market. Every new firm offering Shariah Compliant investments represents a new profitable client who relies heavily on legal counsel due to the newness and complicated nature of this market.

How are Law Firms describing Shariah Finance on their websites?

First, some law firms like Gertsyn Savage give no mention at all to their Islamic Finance expertise on their website, yet Eric Roper, the CEO, is a frequent moderator of Islamic Finance Conferences and their client, Shariah Capital of Greenwich CT, is one of the most aggressive Shariah Finance advisor companies. 

Other firms like Patton Boggs or King & Spalding are clear and proud of their Islamic Finance expertise and proudly disclose their awards and accomplishments in this area.  What is missing is any disclosure between Shariah Finance and the Law of Jihad, human rights abuses, oppression of women and leading economic principle to invest in order to benefit the supremacy of Islam.