Interview with: Hazim A. Rizkana, Managing Partner
Rizkana & Partners | View firm profile
What has been your greatest achievement, in a professional and personal capability?
I consider myself lucky, as throughout my career I had a number of milestones that shaped my professional and personal capabilities, as I shifted in a number of legal fields, for example: dispute resolution and arbitration, where I started working in one of the most recognized disputes firms in Egypt at the time; banking, where I worked in the legal department of two major banks in Egypt and was a board member and head of the audit committee in one of the major public sector banks, when Government decided to privatize management of the banks.
Another important experience that aided in shaping me, professionally and personally, was during the time I spent in the US doing my master studies a training opportunity provided itself at the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights, where I was the only non-EU that was exceptionally accepted since they needed Arabic linguistic skills as our President was visiting the Council that year. Finally, I was lucky that I witnessed and shared in the establishment and growth of Baker & McKenzie Law Firm in Egypt for 28 years until I was the Managing Partner of Cairo Office from 2005 to 2010. It was great school and great time.
All of these experiences helped me in what I consider my greatest achievement, establishing Rizkana & Partners in 2016. Seeing Rizkana & Partners an its team flourish and grow as a local firm with international reach has been the most rewarding experience of my life so far. My passion now is to assist in developing the Egyptian legal practice at an international level and to pass my knowledge and experiences to the new generations. I believe that Egypt can enhance its pioneer status in the legal field in the Middle East with its young talented bilingual and sometimes trilingual professionals in law firms and the judicial system.
What do you do differently from your peers in the industry?
This is a difficult question as Egypt has very capable law firms and colleagues at different fields. However, I guess, what I do differently is that I try to apply a practical view to the law based on my various practical experiences. In addition, I try to understand my client business and to be available to my team to pass my experiences and empower them in helping them achieve their goals. I have always considered my clients as friends and my team and my office as my extended family.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
You must never stop dreaming and trying to better yourself no matter what life throws at you. Always try to keep a work life balance and never quit reading or playing sports.
Can you give me a practical example of how helped a client add value to the business?
In my model of practice, I work as the trusted advisor. I cannot give one example as I am usually close to the business and my clients. When a client requires my help or advice, we discuss issues beyond the legalities of the issue to reach
the appropriate reasonable solution to the problem with a combination of practical experience and legal knowledge. This method of thinking and practice aided me in successfully restructuring a number of businesses and resolving a number of conflicts without the parties to the conflict having to enter into a dispute, this has been evident especially with my experience as a CEDR mediator.
Within your sector, what do you think will be the biggest challenge for clients over the next 12 months?
I think the legal sector has already been passing through a number of serious challenges, for example: work life balance; agile working; cyber security; and online feedback and reputation. I believe the main question that now stands is, Will big law firms with massive investments be able to continue at the same structure, or does the legal sector need to evolve? This question has now been magnified by the COVID – 19 pandemic. I would say AI is the biggest challenge now for all law firms and it remains to be seen how the new business model and offices structures will be re-shaped.