Categories:Middle East

Riyadh-mission ticket

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  • Another meaningless smoke and mirrors article about Saudi Arabia.

    There are no available law licenses for Saudi female law graduates and so career prospects at the moment within the Kingdom are non-existant. While it is nice to have a female graduate in the office, they cannot attend at the Ministries, they cannot attend at the courts, and they have the usual limited legal and research skills as male Saudi graduates (who can, in time, obtain a law licence and go on to have a career as a lawyer).

    So we take the female graduates in for a year or two, make the right corporate responsibility noises, and spend time and money on training. The female graduates (who are not lawyers because they cannot get a licence) realise they are going nowhere in their careers and they leave to study overseas or because they get married to Saudi men who do not want their wives to be mixing with male lawyers, especially western male lawyers.

    Come back in 20 years and by then you may have something to write about.

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  • This is quite old news A&O Riyadh has been employing female trainees and interns for over a year now. In fact informed sources rate them far higher in terms of work ethics than many male counterparts.

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  • @2:07pm

    But the point is that they are not lawyers and cannot be lawyers until the authorities allow female law graduates to obtain a law licence.

    Until then they are just back-room staff who will move on sooner rather than later.

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  • @8.43am Not sure what the law licence actually adds apart from the ability to sell it to a western firm seeking an association!

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  • @2:17pm

    If you don't know the difference between being a licensed lawyer capable of acting for a client and representing that client before courts and authorities and being a back-room researcher and general dogs-body then I wonder why you think you are qualified to make any comment at all.

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  • @11:06am - Completely barbaric to say the female Saudi lawyers leave becuase their husbands don't allow them to work with Western lawyers. 99% of these female lawyers are in these positions because they are from progressive and forward-thinking families/social circles (of which there are many in Saudi cities). Many female lawyers in Saudi also go onto in-house counsel roles where they can progress without a licence.

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  • Many Saudi female lawyers also move on to in-house counsel positions. That allows them to progress without a licence to practice.

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  • Oh please excuse me for being barbaric, but it doesn't matter how progressive your family is if your husband has issues with his wife interacting with other males. I have yet to meet any of the wives of any of the Saudis I have worked with during my time in Saudi Arabia. Perhaps I just work with non-progressive Saudi men.

    Also, after 4 years working in Saudi Arabia I have yet to come across a Saudi female in-house counsel. Can you let me know which family groups or companies they are working for so I can do a mea culpa.

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  • The article missed Baker & McKenzie which was one of the first (if not the first) firm to hire female lawyers in RIyadh and at many points females have constituted half the lawyers in the Riyadh office! Have to say that most of them are promising and talented.

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  • @BR

    Are they lawyers?

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  • @11.06 (first comment). 'Come back in 20 years time', you say. But if non-one takes the early steps like this now, why would the culture be any different in 20 years time?

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  • With respect to "the difference between being a licensed lawyer capable of acting for a client and representing that client before courts and authorities..." The difference is that most lawyers working for international firms never go near a court (and the licence does not effect them going to governmental agencies) while most Saudi lawyers who go to court have little idea about the work the international firms are doing.

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  • The simplest way to consider the issue of whether females should be licensed by the Saudi authorities, is to look at an example of two females (Ms. X and Ms. Y) who attended the same medical school, completed their residencies at the same hospitals and are more or less at the same level of skill as each other. At the end of this strenuous period, one is recognised by the medical community as a doctor, is referred to at the hospital by her colleagues as Dr. X and is allowed to perform her own solo surgeries. The second, is not allowed to wear the white lab coat around the hospital because those are only worn by members of the General Medical Council, is referred to by her colleagues as Ms. Y and is not allowed to perform solo surgeries as she must have an attending "supervise" her surgeries.

    In this instance which of these women would you choose to perform your surgery? Personally speaking, even though they are both equally qualified and have had the same training and education, I would feel more comfortable with Dr. X performing my surgery than with Ms. Y. The exact same logic will apply to clients who are seeking legal advice, they would feel more comfortable taking legal advice from a qualified lawyer that is given the right of audience before a judge than from a consultant who may or may not be allowed to enter the court room. This is really simplifying the case and there are a lot more factors to take into consideration with regards to this matter, but as a starting point Saudi female lawyers must be given the same opportunities and qualifications as their male counterparts to truly be able to have an impact on the legal industry in the Kingdom.

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  • I think an excellent opportunity has been given by the Kingdom . Being a lawyer in London for last 11 years I have not seen much opportunities even offered to women here too and solicitors and barristers are mostly men. I was born in Saudi Arabia forty years ago and stayed there until age of 18 and my mother used to practice as a doctor while my father also worked as doctor in the royal team . Through ages King Faisal introduced Laws that women can work and then King Khalid and King Fahad introduced many concessions to women. It takes on gradually since then and there is nothing barbaric or unusual. Women did not had a say in England until 1930,s and they did not had a right to vote thus their rights were derived gradually. Immense work is being done in Saudi Arabia and credit goes to present King Abdullah. I had personally met King Khalid and noted he was very progressive and noble King. I even met his Queen and she had all the rights in palace. The picture depicted outside is not real and Saudi Arabia is governed by Shariah laws and if a woman gets married she has to stay in ambit of her family laws and nothing restraints her to do the job just saying that husband do not like them to continue profession is wrong and I strongly deny this as one has to live in Saudi Arabia and study its culture in detail to give a comment . Segregation is not the right word to use but we can say both men and women have their own liberties in their own spheres .

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  • @ Anonymous | 27-Jul-2012 3:12 pm
    Why are the lawyers working at a hospital?

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  • @Anonymous: Of course, they are. They have law/bar degrees, they attend meetings, advise clients. As far as going to court is concerned, most Saudi men in corporate law cannot do that either. So we are not lawyers then?

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  • Actually, a jeddah based local firm, Bafakih & Nassief, had employed female lawyers since 2008. Their lawyers had attended and argued at court sessions for female clients and before progressive judges. Some of them visited the Ministry of Commerce (not the female section). It really depends on how receptive the individual judge or ministry employee is to dealing with a female. In any event it's a step in the right direction.

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  • @BR
    I keep asking this question. If they are lawyers, in what jurisdiction are they admitted?
    Having a law degree does not make you a lawyer. Nor does meeting clients or going to court. We have Saudi GRO who go to court - they are not lawyers. We have paralegals and Saudi female graduates who meet clients. They are not lawyers.
    This is my whole point. Saudi females cannot be licensed in Saudi Arabia due to Saudi government gender-based policies. It does not help their cause for people to fudge the boundaries of what is or is not a "lawyer". Until you get a licence from some regulatory authority in some jurisidction, you are not a lawyer.

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  • A nice quote from today's Arab News (21 March) from one of the Saudi female law graduates
    ""We should not end up working as saleswomen after having studied law," said Zahran.
    She added that she went with a fellow graduate to the Ministry of Justice to apply for a license to practice law, but officials in the Minsirty refused to give them even the application form."
    Amazing.

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  • Does it really matter, unless the female trainees are willing to work for less than £390k netnet?

    Who would bother going to the land of sand for less, apart from fantasist tax lawyers who drive old Astras...

    And what's the espresso like out there?

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