Maha Bin Hendi Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Emirati women lawyers are not only storming into what was once a resilient male bastion, they are also doing it with aplomb. The latest Emirati woman lawyer making waves in UAE legal circles is Maha Bin Hendi.

Barely one year after she launched the Maha Bin Hendi Law Firm, the business entity has already topped the Nafes Top 100 Law initiative issued by Dubai Courts for the first quarter of 2019.

Based on a performance indicator that measures the time it takes a firm to obtain a final decision, the Nafes initiative aims to encourage counsel to speed up the legal process through various relief avenues during a trial.

Maha’s boutique law firm took an average of 36.07 days per case to conclude commercial litigations — a remarkable feat considering that each case typically drags on for up to 12 months from the date of filing. The law firm ranked last on the Nafex index took around 100 days per case.

“We are very proud of our achievements; hard work pays off,” says Maha, who was one of the first batch of students to receive the prestigious EDAAD scholarship from His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

She completed her Bachelors of Law LLB (Honours) from the University of Westminster, London, before doing her Masters at Fordham University, New York.

“I look up at His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum as a role model and find inspiration in his words. His quote ‘Dubai will never settle for anything less than first place’ is the moto I aspire to fulfil and live by. If my leader and city won’t settle for anything less, why should I?,” says Maha, who operates out of Dubai Design District (d3).

But isn’t her law firm a misfit in glitzy d3, which is essentially home to luxury fashion brands and art galleries?

“Absolutely not. We are a young and vibrant boutique law firm that specialises in commercial and corporate matters as well as litigation. We provide legal services in various fields which include art, fashion and intellectual property law. D3 reflects our energy and the work we do,” she says. “Much for the same reason we have given a contemporary look and feel to our office. A law firm office doesn’t necessarily have to be dreary and boring,” she adds.

Maha reckons Dubai Courts initiatives such as Nafes could go a long way in restoring public confidence and trust in the legal system. “Many lawyers charge by the hour and often prolong cases to squeeze money out of clients. As a result, people remain reluctant to seek legal advice. But now, Dubai Courts are closely examining the performance of law firms to enhance their operational efficiencies. The government’s vision is to make the Dubai judicial system one of the leading justice systems in the world. This is why they have given advocates tools to shorten the litigation process or nip potential lawsuits in the bud by resolving long-standing disputes out of court while displaying the highest level of competency, due process and, above all, fairness. It was this vision that inspired us to the raise the professional bar and resolve complex cases in the quickest time.”

How does the Nafes initiative work?

A performance indicator measures how long a full and final decision is obtained 12 months from the date of filing. The average number of days across all commercial cases by a certain law firm is then calculated to give an advocate their ranking. The ‘Nafes Top 100 Law Firm’ list is regularly updated to provide the public with a list of firms that have outclassed their peers during that period.

What is an EDAAD scholarship?

A programme under the Knowledge and Human Development Authority which offers opportunities to UAE nationals who have demonstrated leadership potential and strong academic achievements to pursue postgraduate education in the world’s top universities.