“Difficulties are part of life, and easy success is tasteless.”
Founding Partner Saad Al Doseri has been interviewed by Bahraini newspaper Al Watan on his journey from a military captain to a legal career and the success of Al Doseri Law, including Saad’s recent USD 8,000,000 International Arbitration win.
International lawyer and arbitrator Mr. Saad Jaber AlDoseri is a model citizen. He has proved to the world that Bahrain has the expertise to compete internationally and has raised the name of the Kingdom in the field of work closed to foreign selection. When he resigned from his job as a military captain about twelve years ago, Saad Al Doseri left a career that provided a secure income and a good reputation. He was honoured to begin acquiring legal experience in the oldest law firm at a low salary, believing that sacrifices are part of the journey to success, like the adage “no pain, no gain.”
In an interview with “Al Watan,” Saad Al Doseri advised graduates not to rush to success but to gain experience. He also urged them not to do post-graduate studies, stressing that the labour market prefers practical experience over higher academic degrees. Moreover, Saad Al Doseri noted that the resolution of the Minister of Justice to adopt the English language for certain cases heard before the Bahraini courts should have been implemented a long time ago.
How did you start your career in law?
I started my career after I had the honour of joining the military as an officer, which I continued until reaching the rank of captain. I decided to enter the legal profession by joining the Sheikha Haya Al Khalifa law firm as a trainee lawyer. To the firm’s credit, it provided the opportunity to derive experience from the selected advisors working in the office, which established a solid legal base in one of Bahrain’s oldest and most prominent firms. Then, I moved to Al Tamimi, a regional law firm based in the UAE. When they decided to open their office in Bahrain in 2014, I was the first lawyer to join them to support the process of establishing the firm. This was after they had interviewed most of the licensed lawyers in Bahrain. Still, the range of my expertise in both Arabic and English in litigation, arbitration, corporate transactions, and commercial deals made me stand out. I have provided all of the legal services in cases, commercial contracts, and corporate transactions. The field of law is not limited to legal proceedings; it extends to banking and commercial transactions, consultations, and reviewing and drafting contracts. Most of these transactions are made in English, as it is the language of commerce. After my journey with Al Tamimi, through which I gained experience and international relationships, I decided to start my own project, and I opened a law firm in my name in 2018, with the personnel consisting of only myself. I continued conducting all the firm work for a year. I attended hearings, wrote memoranda, provided consultations, wrote invoices, followed up with clients, and visited clients until the workload grew. I moved to a more prominent office that included a female-dominated legal support team, as I believe in the saying that “behind every successful man, there stands a woman.” Today, there are great women behind me who do all of the firm’s work with perfection, professionalism, and commitment, and I am proud of them without exception; we all work as a team. Subsequently, an English partner, a lawyer specialising in banking, corporate, and international transactions, joined the firm.
It is challenging to change your field of work, especially since you were an officer with the rank of captain with a stable future and a distinguished position, so what made you decide to change careers?
I underwent a 180-degree change in my life. I had reached the rank of captain but decided to start over again as a trainee lawyer. Thus, I say to the new generation that there is no success without sacrifice. No pain, no gain. Anyone who wants to succeed and achieve their goals must have patience, determination, and perseverance. Today, my position results from many years of preparation and work. When I first started, I received heavy criticism for leaving a job with a decent salary to be a trainee lawyer with low pay and then opening a private firm with no guarantee of a stable income. But there is no fear for whoever adopts certainty in God and goodwill accompanied by diligence and striving. Difficulties are part of life and the journey to success. Easy success is tasteless and short-lived.
What are the circumstances of the arbitration award you recently obtained, you might be wondering?
Arbitration cases are usually confidential, but what is remarkable and interesting about this case is that the two disputing companies have no headquarters in Bahrain. Also, Bahrain has no relationship to the international dispute or the two companies’ businesses. All that concerns Bahrain is the counsel.
It was prior cooperation with the company that won the dispute. Thus, they realised our experience, so we were entrusted with the mission.
I would like to point out that the law agreed upon by the parties to the dispute was Swiss law, as this was a challenge. Swiss law is similar in its provisions to Bahraini law, especially in applying the notion of “Good Faith”. Usually, such major arbitration cases do not reach specific firms in the legal market having experience spanning two or three decades.
But as part of a rising generation in the field, I assure you that this is the time for the new generation. Entrusting me with this case in the presence of major firms is a source of pride and honour, and a motivation to work more with outstanding professionalism and competition among the seniors in this market. I have excellent and strong relationships with major and well-established firms from the older generation of lawyers, and I do not hesitate to consult them and do not forget their credit.
Likewise, I maintain fraternal relations with my fellow lawyers based on respect and appreciation.
Has the firm taken over other international arbitration disputes?
There are precedents for arbitration disputes in Bahrain and the Gulf states, where Al Doseri Law was present and obtained awards for its clients, but what distinguished the recent arbitration case is its large volume in terms of the value of the dispute and the fact that it is governed by Swiss law. The parties have no relation to Bahrain at all. Our firm, Al Doseri Law, was selected based on its experience. Thus, this achievement is not limited to the firm but is a milestone for Bahrain’s market reputation and Bahraini lawyers. It gives solid credentials to Bahrain’s national output.
What is your comment on the Minister of Justice Resolution No. (117) of 2021 allowing the parties to the dispute to agree to choose the English language when the case is heard before the Bahraini courts?
Words can be described as vessels for thoughts. The English language governs most business and international transactions here in Bahrain. For example, obtaining the relevant licences from Bahrain’s Central Bank to incorporate companies, pass through draft contracts, or make deals – the official language of all these transactions is the English language. Therefore, the commercial environment dictates the English language, and lawyers and the judiciary system must adopt the English language. In our firm, we do not translate documents, provide consultations after their translation, or charge clients additional fees when examining legal dispute documents written in English. In contrast, other law firms have to translate to give legal advice or adopt the defence in a legal dispute. From my experience, translation often loses meaning; the terms and legal context of the English language in verbs and the words of obligation, choice, or compulsion differ from the Arabic language. It is customary in our office to receive huge files in English that we examine and provide a legal opinion on in English. We also engage in negotiations and discussions with the other party in English without charging the client for translation costs. Rather, as I mentioned above, translation often loses the intended meaning. For example, construction disputes and reports of engineers and experts are all in English.
I will give another example of foreign investors entering the Bahraini market with documents and contracts in English. We must understand their content to facilitate their business and make deals for them. Some official authorities in the Kingdom of Bahrain adopt correspondence between them and provide documents in English, depending on the nature of the project. The tender may have been awarded to a company that addresses the authority in English. Therefore, I see the resolution of the Minister of Justice as a natural solution that should have been implemented long ago. I would like to clarify that standard English is a language, while the language of English law is different. Therefore, someone fluent in English is not necessarily proficient in the legal language. There are translation firms that are not familiar with legal terminology; we see this in many translated documents and must go back to correct translation errors. We have proven our worth at Al Doseri Law regarding our ability to deal professionally with all types of cases in both languages, and the last arbitration award was the best proof of that. Regarding my English language proficiency, I did not study in English-speaking countries or private schools, but in a public school in Bahrain. Still, my keenness to learn the language, and my work with foreign lawyers, advisors, and arbitrators over the years was my main reason for engaging in the legal profession in English.
What is your advice to the law graduates today?
Nowadays, the market is saturated with law graduates. Many of those graduates focus on earning a high income rather than acquiring solid experience and proper skills to become seasoned lawyers. When many graduates face this harsh reality, they start looking into studying for post-graduate degrees, thinking that doing so will serve them in a practical aspect and help them get a job. I’m afraid I have to disagree with this approach. I did not plan to study for a post-graduate law degree, such as a master’s or a Ph.D., straight after graduation. I left the security of a job with a captain rank and worked in large firms for a low salary, gaining more experience than I would have in a master’s or doctorate programme, until I reached the level I am at today. I joined post-graduate programs at two different universities ten years ago to obtain a master’s degree. However, because of the demanding nature of the law profession, its requirements and its pressures, I had to withdraw twice. Many of my colleagues studied for their master’s and doctorate degrees. Most of them work in the public sector, where they have a supportive environment that provides them with flexibility in their work to study without any pressure. I advise the graduates not to rush and enrol in post-graduate studies immediately upon graduation. Graduates must accept jobs that allow them to gain experience, even with a simple wage. They must not wait for income before working, because accumulated experiences enhance the lawyer and any graduate in their field. In contrast, post-graduate studies focus on theoretical issues and are not standard necessities for employment, especially in the private sector, which prioritises efficiency.
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The strength of our dispute resolution team is internationally renowned and we have significant experience in the local Bahrain courts at every level.