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Law Work Placement with White and Case LLP in Abu Dhabi (2018)

Every year we arrange work placements for our students across the breadth of subjects we offer. In late August Year 12 students Idris and Kamran travelled to Abu Dhabi for a week working and shadowing lawyers at White and Case LLP, an all-expenses paid experience. Below you can read their first hand accounts of the trip, as well as see some photos of some of the places they visited when out of the office.

Zara Idris on her week

No UK heat we will ever be able to replicate that sudden gush of hot air you feel when you step out of an airport in a foreign country. Abu Dhabi airport at 8 o’clock in the morning was no exception, the 35° heat was the first thing to welcome us to Abu Dhabi.

Having prepped ourselves for a stay in a lawyer’s house, Matt and Nneka were not what we were expecting. I don’t think I’ve ever met people who were kinder, funnier or more welcoming and if not for them, I doubt we would have had this opportunity.

We were lucky enough to have arrived on the weekend and so our first day in Abu Dhabi we spent being tourists. Matt took us out on his yacht, and gave us Snapchat content we’ll never be able to exceed. It’s one thing to see Abu Dhabi on land, another to see it from sea. There is simply no other way to look at the Abu Dhabi skyline and not marvel at the fact that 50 years ago, the majority of it was just sand.
Sunday was our first day at work, we looked through cases such as the Liebeck v McDonald’s restaurant case as examples of itigation arising from laws that were originally aimed at stopping the exploitation of citizens. Cases where citizens were suing for circumstances that seemed almost absurd, for a coffee being too hot, for a train not slowing down fast enough when someone intentionally jumps in front of it. An interesting read, where in many cases, they won.

We spent our days in the office, but in the evening Abu Dhabi was ours to explore. Undoubtedly, one of the greatest sights of Abu Dhabi is the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, a stunning building with an infinite amount of selfie spots. Most definitely a highlight of the trip.

The next two days at White & Case were our busiest. We reviewed cases from every legal division of the Abu Dhabi office for the legal 500.

We were also fortunate to visit Dubai in the evening, a walk through Dubai mall, an indulgent splurge in Sephora and the coveted Dubai fountains followed by another stop at the Sheikh Zayed Mosque meant our hard work in the office, was undoubtedly worth it.

My favourite day at White & Case was when we were able to assist in conducting research for Cornell Law School’s Women and Justice Collection, where we read about cases and legislation pertaining to Pakistani’s women’s’ fight for equality.
Our last day at White & Case felt almost bittersweet. As summer was also approaching in Abu Dhabi, Thursday was the last day for many of the interns in the office, and so I had my first professional lunch. I learnt a great deal that day, how varies the steps were for becoming a practised solicitor across different countries, I became fluent in using a chopstick and even tried sushi for the first time.

Back at the office I read through a preliminary offering memorandum for prospective purchasers of a set of bonds. As a 17 year old, I’d never heard that sentence used in my entire life, and yet that day I gained an insight into the sheer mass of content and data investors would need to consider before purchasing bonds.

On our final day, we visited the Abu Dhabi Louvre, a stunning museum that showcased centuries of artefacts from all across the globe. We capped our day off at Yas Mall where we tried the famous Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake; it indeed, lived up to its reputation.

We were given a once in a lifetime opportunity, and not one I am ever likely to forget. I learnt more that week about the law firm, about working internationally and even just working and living abroad then I possibly could have imagined.

Photos

Ayesha Kamran on her week

The NCS Abu Dhabi White and Case work placement was one of the most exciting and thought-provoking work experiences I have taken part in. It gave me a feel for the working environment in the Middle East, allowing me to compare it to previous placements in London. It was overall, an opportunity that opened my eyes to the world of international law, and broadened my horizons, as I now feel that I could work in a global law firm in the future. The different practices of law were interesting, with a large emphasis on construction law at that particular office, rather than corporate, as seen in most firms and offices.

On the first day of our arrival, Zara and I got a feel for Abu Dhabi itself, which was lovely, as we went to Abu Dhabi Mall. We did some sight-seeing, whilst our hosts kindly gave us a ride on their yacht. On the second day, we started our placement at White and Case, and were given a tour around the office. This gave us the opportunity to meet partners, associates and paralegals at the firm. We discussed their own journeys to White and Case as well as potential career paths for ourselves, which was incredibly insightful. We then discussed the rise of litigation globally, looking at cases such as Liebeck vs McDonalds, more commonly known as ‘the McDonald’s coffee case’, in which a 79-year-old woman was awarded $2.86 million after suffering 3rddegree burns dropping coffee she has bought from McDonalds. In the evening we had the opportunity to visit the stunning Sheikh Zayed Mosque.

Getting there before sunset and experiencing it was truly mesmerising.
For the next two days at the firm we worked on documents that needed to be sent to Legal 500. This gave me an understanding of the ins and outs of a case, with different firms representing the different parties, it was incredibly insightful. On the third day, we had the opportunity to visit some attractions in Dubai, such as the Emirates mall and the Dubai fountains near the Burj Khalifa – as this was my first time in Dubai, I was amazed at the architecture.

On Wednesday, we conducted research on a pro bono case. It was encouraging to see the amount of pro bono work done as a law firm, as I was able to discuss its importance with different members. The lawyers at White and Case were clearly committed to giving back to the community, which was incredibly inspirational and challenges existing stereotypes regarding the profession. Later on in the day, we visited the regal Emirates Palace, which was grand, and located in one of the most picturesque areas of Abu Dhabi.

Other places we visited include the Abu Dhabi World Trade Centre, which showcased Middle Eastern culture through the likes of souks, the Louvre Museum of Abu Dhabi, which was rich in culture and history, and Yas Mall, for a spot of shopping.

Overall, our time at the office was inspiring. Meeting successful individuals and working alongside members has now encouraged me to do further research into law practices I hadn’t considered before, such as construction law.

I’m grateful to the NCS for this opportunity as it was such an enriching experience and has also allowed me to develop my skills as an individual.