Internship in Dubai was an eye-opening experience


By Ryan Mardini

The scorching flow of hot air hit me as soon as the airplane’s doors opened. I was in Dubai, a city at the epicenter of global marketing, and a top destination for the world’s highest-ranking conglomerates. I was there to work as a summer associate at the Dubai office of Baker McKenzie, one of the world’s largest and most prominent law firms, with offices spanning nearly every continent.

Having lived most of my life studying and working within the Gulf countries, I knew this internship would provide a unique ability to interact and network with a variety of business professionals.

The experience provided a remarkable opportunity to work alongside the office’s managing partner, senior partners, and high-level associates within the realm of corporate and business law.

I was frequently challenged by the complexity of the transactions I was asked to review, particularly with respect to trans-border deals involving emerging markets and advising on nearly all stages of joint ventures and strategic alliance transactions. As a 2L student, this experience was extraordinary.

I also was introduced to the challenging area of data privacy law, and soon learned that attorneys specializing in this niche have the ability to perceive the interplay of privacy requirements with consumer protection laws and complex business and tax laws.
And I became exceedingly familiar with—yet not overly fond of—a unique phrase:  due diligence, and the hurdles this task presents.

I spent the majority of my summer analyzing corporate documents, business contracts, and financial statements for latent complications and concerns that may arise prior to a merger or acquisition.

Because my dream is to one day start my own corporate law firm, the experience of working with individuals at the top of their respective fields furnished me instrumental skills, and gave me a giant leap forward in pursuit of my goals. It provided an understanding of what it takes to build a business and expand it.

But perhaps the most insightful perception was that the legal world is a much larger place that I once thought. Very rarely did I perform work that required research pertaining to one specific jurisdiction. Rather, I was researching laws and decrees across scores of jurisdictions, as the work transcended beyond the various jurisdictions within the U.A.E.—to the U.K., Saudi Arabia, U.S.A., and Asia.

Understanding the interplay between a multitude of legal jurisdictions is tantamount to the long-term success and resiliency of a global business law firm. I want to bring this experience back to Detroit and make a change in order to put the city on the global map as the next international hub for high-growth businesses.

The most valuable lesson hailed from scrutinizing every facet of the managing partner’s day-to-day operations. Examining the manner in which he supervises the entire office’s work while still diligently completing his own undertakings gave me a newfound appreciation for time. His daily schedule was sundered into 15-minute segments, allowing for a maximum ability to draw productively on every minute. His herculean efforts were recognized not only across the office but across the world, since he was called from the London office to manage the newly founded Dubai location.

Finally, I learned that good lawyers know the law, but great lawyers recognize and appreciate the client’s business and know what makes the client successful. This makes all the difference when clients choose who they want by their side, representing them through all the steps of their business.


Ryan M. Mardini is a third year student at Detroit Mercy Law, focusing on corporate and business law.