It is generally considered prudent to retain a legal services partner which can prove beneficial to your company’s professional reputation as well as the overall financial health and the corporate social profile. In particular, for cross-border transactions and especially transactions involving the acquisition of a foreign target company, a legal opinion is usually well recommended. A legal opinion helps to inform and identify the legal risks and issues for the board and management of the acquiring entity.
Featuring for The Enterprise World’s column on The Most Innovative Law Firms to Watch, we have Mssrs. Abdo Rafiq and Partners, a legal services firm providing its clients with cost effective and efficient legal advice.
In this interview with Mr. Javid Rafiq, Managing Partner, he will be telling us more about the journey of their firm.
Tell us about the firm.
Abdo Rafiq and Partners is a full service law firm headquartered in the UAE, providing legal services throughout the UAE and the wider region across wide variety of specialisms. Abdo Rafiq and Partners are a diverse partnership of professionals and like-minded colleagues with decades of professional experience in multiple practice areas. Abdo Rafiq and Partners team is comprised of advocates and legal consultants with high professional qualifications and excellent expertise. Most importantly, Abdo Rafiq and Partners team has all the relevant up to date knowledge related to UAE such as laws and procedures, litigation, financial services and corporate-commercial transactions.
What were the initial challenges you faced?
Abdo Rafiq and Partners first challenge was taking the leap to rebrand and re-launch our practice under Abdo Rafiq and Partners during the peak of the global pandemic. Although we benefitted from our many decades of combined experience in the local legal field and have always been up to date with current issues our clients face, rebranding during this tumultuous time was a great challenge for us as a firm.
This was around two years ago that we made this change, and we are delighted to now be at the stage where we can see the benefits of our hard work and sincere efforts via the results, feedback and accolades we have received from our clients, peers and the legal services fraternity.
What was the point that triggered the growth of the firm?
Abdo Rafiq and Partners have been in a constant growth pattern, even prior to setting up Abdo Rafiq and Partners, but what really triggered the growth of the firm was branching out into other jurisdictions. In particular, building relationships through the prestigious CONSULEGIS network to target high quality work in the UAE provided us with a platform to expand and provided us with access to like-minded colleagues in other parts of the world.
This was in essence, a natural progression given our niche as a high quality legal services provider in the small to medium sized category. We are delighted to have been invited to the CONSULEGIS network last year and take the opportunity to expand and gain access to quality legal services in more than 120 worldwide jurisdictions.
What is the reason behind your company’s long-standing success?
Abdo Rafiq and Partners success is built on a number of factors, such as staying ahead of the market trend in the UAE and being adaptive to change. The legal field is forever changing and in order to be successful we must stay abreast of all legal developments in the UAE to provide our clients with the most up to date legal advice.
At the same time, we also ensure that our fee tariff is contemplative of the global trend in the legal services sector where clients are ever more cost conscious. Our key ethos is prioritising the client in all aspects of our work and growing at a healthy pace so as to ensure our long-standing clients feel part of our success and the quality of work we deliver is maintained throughout.
What are the products/services the firm focuses on? How are your services different from those in the market?
Abdo Rafiq and Partners firm is primarily focused on providing dispute resolution, financial services, corporate-commercial and related legal services. As a niche firm, we are in a unique position to be able to provide high quality work in both local UAE Courts as well as the specialist Courts and tribunals across the UAE. We pride ourselves delivering world-class, personalised and bespoke service to all of our clients whilst maintaining cost effectiveness, which makes us a very strong competitor in the realm of international law firms.
How do you decide to take the company a step further in terms of your products/services?
Abdo Rafiq and Partners continued objective is to expand our global network further through associations and collaborations whilst maintaining focus on new sectors and practice areas developing in the UAE. The UAE is home to a large and growing number of international groups and corporations looking to grow into other overseas markets. Abdo Rafiq and Partners can assist our clients with this by staying on the cutting edge of developments in the legal field.
Abdo Rafiq and Partners have most recently added capabilities in immigration and insolvency to our existing departments in line with our vision to continue to expand into international cross-border work while also capitalising on UAE as our home jurisdiction.
What are the notable achievements in your journey so far?
In addition to our invitation to become a member of the prestigious CONSULEGIS network, we are most delighted to receive recognition from the Legal 500 EMEA 2022 rankings as a Leading Law Firm and Firms to Watch categories.
What do you think are the responsibilities of an entrepreneur?
Becoming a successful entrepreneur requires commitment to your values and vision, whatever that might be. An entrepreneur’s vision must include supporters such as junior staff members, colleagues and family members because those are the people who support you in failure and celebrate your successes. Without supporters, no individual can be successful in achieving their “magnum opus”.
Can you please brief us about your professional experience?
My early professional experience comes from working in the banking and finance sector with major international and national law firms headquartered in the UK and in the last 15 years here in the UAE. I have extensive experience in the area of banking and finance and have acted for banks, local government public bodies, finance companies, corporate borrowers and a range of other commercial and corporate clients. I have also acted for insolvency office holders in recovery matters.
My experience includes advising lenders and borrowers on bilateral transactions, security documents and structures, acquisitions, management buy-outs and general secured lending and I have advised on sales of business assets by receivers and liquidators together with advising administrators on placing companies into administration. In addition, I have also most recently focused on advising both local and international financial services institutions on all aspects of regulated financial activity and financial business. My practice also includes advising UAE, DIFC and ADGM based fund operators in relation to both public and private funds.
How do you look after your employees? What makes your team unique?
My approach to looking after my employees is to understand what drives them and motivates them, so as to empower them to be successful lawyers and business owners whether it is within our practice or elsewhere. I often tell my juniors and trainees that it is equally critical to be enterprising and commercially aware as much as it is to be a good lawyer.
What would be your advice to the budding entrepreneurs?
First, as a successful lawyer and second, a successful entrepreneur, my advice to budding entrepreneurs in the legal sector would be to look to the future and not just the present. Tomorrow’s lawyers will be very different from today’s lawyers and if you want to be successful then you must follow the disruption, look at technology that is anticipated to impact the legal field and take your aim accordingly. Of course, this is easier said than achieved!