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Compelling Ingenuity in a Legal Framework

Jimmy Haoula talks to Calcus about effectively addressing diverse businesses through innovation.
Tell us about BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates LLP ( former Bin Shabib & Associates)?
BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates LLP ( fomer Bin Shabib & Associates LLP) is one of the first law firms to be registered by the Dubai International Financial Centre. We were founded in 2001. We started off as a few young lawyers gathered all around from different international law firms and saw a material market gap between international law firms and local legal entities. We decided to create something which would cater to the middle range transactions and have done so quite successfully. Bin Shabib has now expanded and we currently have over 60 lawyers. The company also has offices in Muscat, the Sultanate of Oman, Erbil in theKurdish region of Iraq, Riyadh and Beirut.
What is your approach to legal business?
We consider ourselves as business oriented professionals and seek to work for a transaction rather than working for either side of the table. Needless to say you are acting or presenting one side at all times, but we all seem to look at the transaction as the focus rather than sole interest of the client. It is mainly because sometimes what is in the interest of the client alone is not necessarily in the interest of the transaction. Most of the times when we advise our clients, they tend to agree with us; realizing that at the end of the day the transaction has to be successful. We also pride ourselves for introducing clients to each other, which helped our business grow rapidly. We know people who provide certain services and act for them. We also know other people who require those services. What we do is organize a meet and greet for them and then the rest is done outside the premises of our offices.
What are your areas of expertise?
We currently have eight focused practice areas within the firm: Litigation, Arbitration & Dispute Resolution, Construction, Banking & Finance, Insurance & Reinsurance, Corporate & M&A and Employment. There are sub divisions under corporate: general corporate, corporate governance, commercial and real estate. In the region we do a lot of insurance and a number of cross border transaction as well as regional corporate governance and corporate work.
What is your strategy for providing cost effective legal services?
We recruit lawyers and tell them their time should be split into 20 percent marketing themselves and marketing the firm, 30 percent research and 50 percent dedicated legal work. Now when you do that split, you generally turn out to lower your costs because the lawyers who are providing you the service are either ready or on top of the matter they are looking into. Hence, this reduces the amount of time that they need to get the information out. It also assists in creating a corporate or commercial minded lawyer to expedite an advice that the client requires. We have recently been awarded the material contract by the Insurance Authority of the Federal Government of UAE to redraft regulations concerning insurance companies. We were awarded the project, based on our cost effectiveness, which is the direct result of our lawyer’s expertise - since we do not spend unnecessary time finding what we need to know as we have already done that research in-house.
What milestones have you achieved so far?
We have diluted the difference between international and local firms in the market and are no longer the only players catering to the middle ranged transactions. There are quite a few in the market and our approach has assisted that. Secondly, we have actually locally penetrated the legal service industry. This service was exclusive to international law firms in the past. On this particular aspect, I refer to hospitality, franchising and insurance where local firms now hold the monopoly over international law firms. We decided to create something which would cater to the middle range transactions and have done so quite successfully. Lastly, we have expanded at the cost of others and that’s a truly financial benefit, but certain clients like you for the service you provide locally.
Do you consider yourselves at Bin Shabib thought leaders and why?
We are cautious while recruiting but are aggressively looking for more lawyers. We are innovators in the way we practice law. All our clients have become good colleagues in different industries. We match mentalities, not because we are super heroes, but simply because we found out what these people need, so we do our best to give it to them. Sometimes we help create legal solutions to help them. In that perspective - we definitely are thought leaders.

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Published: December2013
Publication: Leadership 2014 by Calcus
Title: BIN SHABIB & ASSOCIATES: Compelling Ingenuity in a Legal Framework
Practice: Corporate and M&A
Authors: Jimmy Haoula
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