Your Guide to Starting a Legal Consultancy Business in the UAE


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If you have a background in legal consultancy and are seeking greener pastures, the thought of establishing yourself in the UAE may have come to mind. With a mass influx of entrepreneurs and professionals who are waiting to make their mark on the world, there is certainly a high demand for legal services in the UAE. Backed by its strategic location, business friendly environment, tax benefits and 100% foreign ownership privileges, the UAE may be the best place in the world to set up your legal consultancy business. 

Setting up a legal consultancy business in the UAE involves several steps, including choosing the right legal structure, obtaining the necessary licenses, and fulfilling specific requirements. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you through the process:

1. Determine Your Business Structure

In the UAE, you can choose between several business structures. The most common for legal consultancy are:

  • Sole Proprietorship: Owned by one individual who has full control and responsibility.
  • Civil Company: A professional partnership where two or more individuals own the business.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC): Requires a local partner who holds 51% of the shares.
  • Free Zone Entity: Some free zones permit you to operate anywhere within the UAE. This means you can rent out an office space in the UAE mainland as well.

2. Select a Free Zone or Mainland

  • Free Zones: There are many free zones in the UAE, such as Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and Fujairah Creative City (FCC). Free zones offer benefits like full foreign ownership, tax exemptions, and simplified import/export procedures.
  • Mainland: Requires a local sponsor or service agent, but allows you to operate anywhere in the UAE.

3. Obtain the Necessary Licenses

  • Legal Consultancy License: This is mandatory for providing legal advice and services. The process and requirements vary depending on the emirate and whether you’re in a free zone or on the mainland.
  • For free zone or mainland licenses, SetHub is available to make the licensing process easy and hassle free.

4. Fulfill Professional Requirements

  • Qualifications: Legal consultants must have the necessary academic qualifications and professional experience. Typically, a law degree and relevant work experience are required.
  • Approval from Legal Affairs Department: In some emirates, like Dubai, you may need approval from the Legal Affairs Department or similar authorities to practice law.

5. Prepare the Necessary Documentation

  • Passport Copies: For all shareholders and managers.
  • Visa Copies: For all shareholders and managers. (Those outside the UAE will require a visit visa and those who need to reside in the UAE will require a Residency Visa)
  • Proof of Qualification: Copies of degrees and professional certificates.
  • Business Plan: Detailed plan outlining the business activities, target market, and financial projections.
  • No Objection Certificate (NOC): If applicable, from your current sponsor if you are an existing resident of the UAE.
  • Memorandum of Association (MOA): For LLCs and partnerships.

6. Office Space Requirements

  • Physical Office: Both free zone and mainland companies typically require a physical office space. Free zones often offer flexible office solutions, including virtual offices.
  • Lease Agreement: Secure a lease agreement for your office space.

7. Apply for Visas

  • Residency Visa: For the owner(s) and employees.
  • Employment Visa: For staff if you plan to hire.

8. Open a Corporate Bank Account

  • Choose a Bank: Select a bank that suits your business needs.
  • Provide Necessary Documents: Including the trade license, MOA, passport copies, and proof of address.

9. Register for VAT

  • VAT Registration: If your annual turnover exceeds the mandatory threshold (currently AED 375,000), you need to register for VAT.

10. Marketing and Networking

  • Develop a Website: A professional website is crucial for a legal consultancy business.
  • Networking: Join local business groups and chambers of commerce to network and build your client base.

This list serves as a general guide to put you on the right path. You should keep in mind that these requirements and steps may differ on a case by case basis. In order to get a detailed picture of where to start and how to get setup as quickly as possible, speak to a business setup consultant such as SetHub. Schedule a call with us now and hear back in one business hour. Our experts will provide you with valuable assistance and streamline the process.