Setting Up a Legal Consultancy in ADGM

July 28, 2023

Embarking on the journey of setting up a legal consultancy in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) requires strategic decision-making and a comprehensive understanding of the opportunities and challenges within this flourishing business hub.

ADGM is renowned for its robust legal framework. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the key considerations and essential steps to successfully establish a legal consultancy in ADGM.

What are the functions of a legal consultancy in the ADGM?

• Giving legal advice or counsel to such a person as to his legal rights or the legal rights or responsibilities of others.

• drafting or completion of legal documents or agreements which affect such a person’s legal rights.

• negotiation of legal rights or responsibilities on behalf of such a person; but excluding acting as a lay representative authorised by an administrative agency or tribunal, serving as a judge, mediator, arbitrator, conciliator or facilitator; and participation in employment negotiations, arbitrations or conciliations.

• Includes offices and firms which offer legal consultancy advice and prepare legal studies of the lawsuits and the legal questions submitted thereto. However, they are not entitled to assume the defence before courts in this regard.


The ADGM Regulatory Authority requires all directors’ legal qualifications, international bar certificates and CVs to ensure relevant experience. No attestation or notarisation required.

AML Regulations

The entity will be subject to Anti Money Laundering and Sanctions Rules and Guidance and must appoint a qualified MLRO and provide its AML Program at the time of application.

Entities should appoint its MLRO pursuant to section 12.2 of ADGM Anti-Money Laundering & Sanction Rules & Guidance and must be a resident of the UAE.


The Registrar decided to allow only body corporates to apply for legal consultancy business activities. Law firms can only apply for registration if they are an existing company’s branch, a partnership, or a wholly owned subsidiary. This decision comes into effect from 30th March 2023, entailing: 

  • Applicant. Limit the type of applicants to legal persons. Such legal person may be a company or a partnership seeking to establish either subsidiary undertaking or a branch office in ADGM.  No applications will be accepted from individuals. 
  • Track record – at least two other jurisdictions. It would be prudent to consider that the applicant must have 10 years of experience of operating successful legal practices in at least two other jurisdictions at the time of lodging application with ADGM RA, which may include onshore UAE and the DIFC, but exclude commercial free zones in the United Arab Emirates. The evidence of such track records must be presented to ADGM RA to support application for license. 
  • Resources. A requirement for the ADGM entity to have a sufficiently resourced business employing legal professionals with practicing certificates from recognized jurisdictions. An applicant must demonstrate evidence of employing at least 25 qualified legal professionals in its current offices, wherever such offices are located.
  • Professional Indemnity Insurance. A requirement for the new ADGM registrant to have professional indemnity insurance, either on its own or through an extension of the applicant’s professional indemnity insurance.

How CBD Formations Can Assist

Ready to establish your legal consultancy in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM)? As a licensed company service provider (CSP) in the ADGM, CBD Formations can help you set up your ADGM entity while ensuring the highest compliance standards. For more information, email: or call/Whatsapp +971 56 218 4695.

Authored by Daniel Dronsfield, Consultant at CBD Corporate Services

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