When talking about growth, creation of new opportunities, or increasing business in the economy, one of the rarely mentioned but highly crucial aspects of it all is the legal work that goes behind it all. Law could basically be called the base of almost all structures, more specifically in business and how things are run. With the rapid changes taking place, now more than ever it is important for us to be aware of the legal systems and how they shape things around us.
To get an understanding of what goes into the legal work and what being a lawyer in Bahrain today is like, we had a chat with Aysha Mutwaywea, one of the leading practitioners in Bahrain. Aysha is the resident Partner at Mena Chambers, and has over 10 years of legal experience, specializing in arbitration and litigation. We asked Aysha to share what her experience has been like in the field of law and how’s it’s evolving to create new opportunities for aspiring lawyers.
What drew you to get into law, and what is it that keeps you going today?
I think I have always been drawn to and fascinated by social structures. The most intriguing product of any society is its legal structure and its laws. The law is, in fact, a culmination of and a direct reflection of societies culture, ethics, morals and other aspects that make it unique. It is a representation of the collective and that is absolutely fascinating to me. It was, therefore, my interest in sociology that drove me to law and the legal profession. I would say that my career choice was driven by genuine curiosity. That was how it started.
I consider myself lucky to be a part of Mena Chambers Law Firm in Bahrain. I joined the firm for a myriad of reasons, one of which was its focus on international arbitration and the other interesting aspects of the law, but also, for its dedication towards contributing something positive to the legal community by embodying strong professional ethics and high-quality work. I am enabled through Mena Chambers to “do what I do” which is provide a professional legal environment for young lawyers to excel and challenge themselves to become competent and qualified legal professionals. It is important to create working spaces that enable people to learn and push themselves.
A work environment must challenge an employee and demand high-quality results. This way, we will create capable legal professionals and elevate the standard of legal practice. That is why I do what I do. Because we can all contribute to our legal landscape and our contribution is to provide a space to do that. At Mena Chambers, we understand and are very much aware that what we do, collectively is important. Our standards set the benchmark and so we must set it high.
Based on your experience, what legal specializations would you say are most needed in Bahrain and how can that gap be filled?
Bahrain has recently shifted its focus towards international investments, entrepreneurship, and technology. The disputes arising out of these markets are rarely heard before the local courts and so arbitration, mediation and other forms of dispute resolution will be in high demand by clients. I would say that the market will demand legal professionals who are able to compete and advice on alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. Since the nature of alternative dispute resolution is international, I believe that young legal professional and fresh legal graduates should focus on acquiring skills and knowledge that would allow them to compete in an international market. Language is extremely important. Young professionals must be bilingual and able to navigate both English and Arabic easily.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to yourself as a young lawyer just starting off your career?
I would say two things. First, I would tell any young lawyer to focus on developing logic and language. The ability to think is not an easy one. Logic is developed by deliberate practice. Learn to be objective and structure your thoughts. You must also hone your language skills and this requires continuous reading and writing. These are the main features that make a successful lawyer.
Second, I would tell any young lawyer to be patient. Instant gratification is not attainable in this line of work. You must be patient and focused. It will take time to achieve your goals and that’s ok. Keep your head down, focus and work at it.
What opportunities could young lawyers look out for within the legal landscape, in Bahrain as well as internationally?
I think young lawyers should focus on ANY opportunity to work in a place that would support and encourage them to gain skills and legal knowledge. The opportunity is to learn and what is important is the quality of the work. Any opportunity to learn is an opportunity you should take. I think young lawyers should focus on acquiring skills and knowledge and worry about job title's and financial gain later. The focus of any young professional should be to gain a skill set that would open many doors for them in various legal fields.
From an employer perspective, what is it that you look for in new talent when hiring for your team?
Logic, language, and discipline. These are the main things we look for in young professionals. We are looking for people who have the ability to think critically and be innovative. We want someone who is focused on developing themselves and being the best professional they can be. This means that we are looking for young professionals who want to break their own barriers and are willing to challenge themselves and accept feedback and criticism. Really what we are looking for is someone who has a good foundation in terms of skills and knowledge and has the mindset and capacity to learn and develop.