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This checklist includes key issues to consider for the in-house legal career journey of women in the Middle East. This checklist was prepared by the Association of Corporate Counsel, based mainly on the ACC Webcast titled Finding Your Seat at the Table as a Woman in the Middle East (March 23, 2021) - a webcast delivered by leading GCs in the region along with ACC Women In the House (WITH) and ACC Middle East & North Africa about their career journeys and their recommendations for creating the environment to support more women in finding their seat at the table. 

THE MIDDLE EAST IS A DYNAMIC AND DIVERSE REGION:

  • The “Middle East” encompasses 20 countries over 2 continents with different cultures, languages, legal traditions and political systems.
  • Across cultures and continents there are more similarities than differences in the experiences of women in the legal profession.
  • There is a marked shift from exceptionalism to acceptance of women lawyers, although its is happening at different paces in different countries

PROFESSIONAL DETOURS CAN MAKE YOU A BETTER LAWYER AND A BETTER PERSON:

  • There is no linear path to success. Many, if not most, women lawyers take advantage of the revolving door between law firms, government and in-house positions
  • Going in-house means becoming a pragmatic business partner and a people manager. In-house practice is not the “softer” or “easier” option as the work can be hard and the hours long – it’s a change in focus.   
  • To be valued, become the Business Person in the Room with a Legal Specialty. By presenting your knowledge and skills in ways that add immediate value to the business people you gain a seat at the table by becoming an indispensable voice.

WOMEN CAN USE THEIR SEAT AT THE TABLE TO CHANGE THE NATURE OF LEADERSHIP:

  • Self-doubt is women’s worst enemy and can lead to over preparation and hesitancy, which undermines the confidence of others in the opinion stated or the recommendation made.
  • Leadership models are changing, towards more consensus-building, teamwork and an environment of psychological safety over raw competition. This model is promoted by women and suited to their talents.
  • Work, Family, Social Life are a difficult balance for everybody. 
  • Acceptance of women lawyers and of the legal role is increasing as demonstrated by the shift from “what is she doing here?” to “What is the lawyer doing here?” when gathering around the table.
  • Ensure Continuity by Elevating Voices and using your Seat to act as a mentor and sponsor to others on their way to the table so they can claim their seat.

Learn More:
Watch the ACC Webcast: https://onlineed.acc.com/learn/course/external/view/elearning/1052/finding-your-seat-at-the-table-as-a-woman-in-the-middle-east

Speakers: Wafa Derouiche, VP & Chief Compliance Officer, TE Connectivity | Sahia Ahmad, General Counsel, Dubai Tourism | Joanna Addison, Head of Legal, Qatar Shell | Ghada Qaisi Audi, Deputy Executive Director, CAIR-SFBA | Raya Alkhatib, General Counsel, American Express Saudi Arabia

Check out the ACC Resource Library: www.acc.com/resources-library 

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Region: Middle East
The information in any resource collected in this virtual library should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on specific facts and should not be considered representative of the views of its authors, its sponsors, and/or ACC. These resources are not intended as a definitive statement on the subject addressed. Rather, they are intended to serve as a tool providing practical advice and references for the busy in-house practitioner and other readers.
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