Interview with: BASMA AL KIYUMI, FOUNDER & MANAGING DIRECTOR, BK LAW FIRM

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What has been your greatest achievement, in a professional and personal capability?

My greatest professional as well as personal achievement is to have founded and developed my own Law Firm while simultaneously being actively involved in the civil and political process of my country. I have and continue to successfully advocate for the civil and political rights of individuals.

What do you do differently from your peers in the industry?

  1. What separates our Firm from our peers is that we learn our cases, really understand what our clients want (or can realistically obtain), and come up with a plan early on as to how we are going to get from Point A to Point B. We constantly re-evaluate our plan, as situations/needs are always subject to change, but we know where we need to go, have thought seriously about how we are going to get there, and don’t take our eyes off the ball. We strive to be masters of planning and execution.
  2. We do not constantly react to a case, we get out in front of things, develop a plan, and drive the matter where it needs to go. We are not satisfied with just checking the boxes and doing our best. While this may ultimately get good results, it is unlikely to get the exceptional results or efficient results that our clients are paying for. We often counsel a client that was in reactive mode (waiting for the other shoe to drop in a matter) on how they could instead play offense and potentially pull away from a loss entirely.
  3. We challenge ourselves every step of the way and develop our practice in a more solid and sustainable matter. We care about the standard of our work.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I would advise my younger self: Don’t overthink everything. Stop doubting yourself. Stop second guessing. Just act. Take risks.

Accept that you cannot do everything. Sacrifice what you can let go of so you can achieve what you truly want.

It is okay to be kind to others but more important to be kind to yourself. Take self-interest—do something for you every day. It’s not selfish, it’s vital—it’s your life.

Can you give me a practical example of how you helped a client add value to the business?

A lawyer must have an in-depth understanding of the business of its client to be able to add value and deliver strategic advice. A corporate client had recently approached us for a second opinion on a merger transaction that they were contemplating. A whole process was devised by another law firm to effect the merger. However, upon careful review of the documents and after a discussion with the client to understand their goals and objectives from this transaction, we discovered that the merger was extremely detrimental and counter-productive to the objectives of our client. We held extensive brain storming sessions with the client, to gain full understanding of their concerns, and exploring different alternatives, while keeping our eyes on their intended goal. By the end of this extensive exercise we were able to arrive at a completely different road map that achieves what our client wants while minimizing the risks involved. The point here is that, as a lawyer, you have to take the time to know your client and see the matter from their perspective before rushing to offer legal solutions.

Within your sector, what do you think will be the biggest challenge for clients over the next 12 months?

The biggest challenge that I see for clients over the next 12 months is the increase in labour disputes, especially class action lawsuits.

One of the causes for this increase can be attributed to the pandemic and the economic struggle in the market. Companies had employed large number of employees for projects which became redundant because of the pandemic. The employment contracts provided little or no recourse for the employers to terminate the employees in such situations.

We see now more than ever an increase in class action where the employer faces significant losses if the case is not determined in its favor. The law provides a process that both parties (employer/employees) can utilize to reach middle ground in such cases, preserving the work relationship and addressing the concerns of both parties. Therefore, in these cases, lawyers must have the flexibility and creativity to utilize collective work agreements as a viable alternative to win all or lose all attitude.