Atif Ali, LLM
“My internship shows that I am proactive, travelling 4,500 miles to experience a two week internship in the middle of completing my Masters, goes a long way in the eyes of future employers.”
I took part in a two-week internship at a regional law firm in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). The firm, namely BSA Ahmed Bin Hazeem, specialises in Litigation, Arbitration and Real Estate, with 9 offices in 6 countries.
During my time I was situated in the Dubai International Financial Centre (a major global financial hub which boasts a number of financial institutions, insurance companies and international law firms). Whilst on my internship I assisted lawyers in legal drafting, checking documents and I was even able to attend a property completion of an apartment in the Burj Khalifa. My internship allowed me to experience ‘working life’ in another country as well as experiencing another culture.
My internship allowed me to work with a firm with local knowledge and experience. I was able to witness UAE culture and learn how the law was practiced in the UAE. I was able to work on something new every other day. This allowed me to prioritise and adapt quickly to another area of law. I was given advice from people who had already been through what I had been through. This is proving invaluable as I am able to get advice as and when I want.
What were your main achievements?
I have a number:
- I personally think the ability to connect with so many people and make a number of friends whilst on my internship was really enriching to me. I’m a sociable person and enjoy being around people. I was commended for my positive attitude which was seen by everyone.
- Another achievement is being able to understand the culture of the Emirates; I was able to adapt, learn how the Emiratis do things (even if it was the hard way by nearly getting sent to a Police station for not keeping my passport on my person when travelling around Dubai).
- I was able to review a property transaction and get all the relevant documents for both parties in order to ensure the transaction was completed on the day requested by both parties. However, even though I felt that I was fully prepared, I wasn’t - there was an issue on the day and I was able to work with my colleague to ensure that it was resolved in favour of the client.
- Finally, spending two weeks alone in another country in a setting which was unfamiliar to me is definitely an achievement; I was able to build my self-confidence and independence.
What did you enjoy the most?
I enjoyed working with people from 15 different nationalities. This allowed me to understand not only UAE culture but the culture of the people I was working with. I enjoyed getting to know local customs. My enthusiasm enabled me to have the opportunity to accompany one of the ‘local’ (a lawyer born in UAE) lawyers to a property transaction for an apartment being sold in the world’s tallest building (Burj Khalifa). The transaction took place in government offices in Emirates Tower and it was really interesting seeing how a property transaction takes place in the UAE. The view was amazing as I could see the Burj Khalifa. The transaction involved the ‘normal’ process of selling which includes exchanging contracts and money. However, the twist was that it was completed with the buyer and seller in one office and took around 2 hours. I was also taken to a number of government offices during my time. I enjoyed being taken out for food by the lawyer who I accompanied as well as one of the finance guys, which was really kind of them.
What were the hardest aspects?
I’ve been a student my entire life so making sure I arrived by 8:30am and then working right through to 6:30pm most days was certainly a shock to the system. By the time 5pm came I was extremely exhausted. What helped in this regards is having another intern, who I have now become really good friends with. Also I believe it’s extremely important to have a supportive environment, which I had, including the HR team.
What skills have you developed?
The skills that I wanted to develop during my internship have been fulfilled:
- Communication: I was able to develop my oral and written communication skills by interacting with lawyers and clients of the firm.
- Attention to detail: I spent some time working on legal drafting and I assisted on a property deal, which meant that I was asked to review a contract; I had to ensure that everything was in order as if it wasn’t it could essentially make the contract void.
- Time management: having to wake up at 6am, for two weeks was not something I was used to. Also having to be somewhere for 8:30am meant that I significantly improved my time management.
- Research and analysis: I was asked to write an article for the team - this is a skill which is required as a lawyer; I was able to improve absorbing facts and figures.
How do you think your internship will benefit you in the future?
My internship shows that I am proactive, travelling 4,500 miles to experience a two week internship in the middle of completing my Masters, goes a long way in the eyes of future employers. My internship will benefit me in that if I wanted to move abroad for my career, I have already experienced what it is like and will be able to talk about it. Furthermore, the more experience in the law field, the better. In the immediate future I hope that my internship in the UAE can open the door for more legal work experience in the UK, which I hope will ultimately lead to a training contract (fingers crossed).
Thank you to donors
I would like to thank the alumni and donors of the University who supported the bursary programme. Without your support I wouldn’t have been able to complete my internship, or I would have but would have been in debt. I am forever grateful for the two-week experience that I had. I hope that one day I can support a bursary programme to give someone like me the opportunity to complete an internship.
With grateful thanks to the alumni donors who made the PGT Professional Development Bursary possible.