It was a moment of unbridled joy when I received a confirmation mail for an internship at a foreign law firm. This was soon followed by chaos as it would also mark my very first foreign journey. The procedural formalities for obtaining a passport and visa was just a small obstacle for the far enriching experience that was ahead. After interning at various Indian law firms, interning at a foreign law firm gave me an insight into the professionalism that is underlying the profession. Interning in Dubai, where about ninety percent of the population are expatriates was an overwhelming experience. It was amazing to see people from different countries putting aside their differences and work together peacefully and happily.
Economic growth in the UAE
The UAE has grown exponentially in the recent years due to the visionary leadership of its rulers and the hard work of its residents. Mere two decades ago, the UAE was not a place of international significance in commerce, but today it is in the forefront of technological advancements and is a global economic hub. Indians form the largest expatriate population in the country, at about forty percent. UAE is the perfect example of the age old saying, “a good king is better than a bad parliament”.
Laws governing the UAE
The laws promulgated by the government is grounded on the various complexities and nuances of everyday life. One of the primary sources of law is Sharia principles. In a place where value of transactions is huge and larger than the GDP of several countries, it is pertinent that the laws governing the same are astute and perceptive to the requirements of the transaction.
Comparison between the UAE and Indian laws
Indian laws, evolved from the English Law, is significantly guided and developed upon by the courts. However, the UAE follows civil law by which the courts are free to make decisions considering the facts and merits of each case. This offers the courts flexibility to give due consideration to all the relevant factors while interpreting the law. Only the nationals can practice litigation in the UAE courts but the government has allowed international law firms to set up practice and provide consultancy services to their clients. By opening up the market for foreign law firms, it has raised the standards in providing legal assistance to clients. This is a progressive step as it can help in bringing more investors to the country, who would generally prefer a recognized law firm from their own country. Such a step has been in pipeline in India too after Bar Council of India released its draft rules on Registration and Regulation of Foreign Lawyers 2016. However, it seems the entry of foreign law firms is to take much time in India as this is facing opposition from certain quarters.
Internship at an international law firm
Interning at a law firm in Dubai has been an enriching experience. It provided a great opportunity to learn how transactions are being conducted and what obligations lawyers have towards their clients. To cater to clients from different parts of the world, a lawyer must not only be knowledgeable and well informed but also extremely professional in their conduct. Even the tiniest aspect of interaction will be scrutinized and in an extremely competitive environment there cannot be an error of judgement.
Practicing law is entirely different from learning law, and erudition, intelligence and wisdom are not the only essential requirements. It’s passion that ultimately fulfills the profession, as it requires patience and soft skills. The significance of having a work-life balance will help in reducing burnt-out scenario which will consequently lower the attrition rate.
Moreover, I have learnt certain essential qualifications necessary for a lawyer. It is the duty of the lawyer to efficiently and expeditiously provide guidance and legal assistance to the client. The role of a lawyer far exceeds having knowledge of the law. A lawyer must understand the client’s business and the objective behind any given transaction before providing a legal opinion.
The most challenging aspect of the internship was learning an entirely different legal system. To understand the various technicalities of the law, it was of utmost importance to know how the law came into being and how it is executed. Fortunately, the partners and associates took time away from their busy hours to teach the intricacies and practices. Even though the legal systems were distinct and different from each other, the fundamentals concerning the company law and transactional law remained the same.
Over a period of three weeks, I have learnt that letting go of your fears and moving out of your comfort zone is a mandate to achieve success. Dubai was a different and welcoming experience for me as the people were friendly and open minded towards expatriates from across the world. I hope to come back to this wonderful country one day!
Author: Vinayak Padmakshan
Vinayak Padmakshan is an eighth semester B.B.A LLB (Hons) student from School of Law, Christ University, Bangalore, India. His areas of interest include Corporate Law, Mergers & Acquisition and Banking and Finance. He has presented papers on various national conferences on Intellectual Property and Mergers & Acquisition. He likes to pursue a career on corporate advisory and transactions.