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Building a bridge to global legal practice

David Gallo, Director, DIFC Academy of Law

When the DIFC opened for business in 2004, among its many achievements was to attract some of the world’s best commercial law firms and practitioners to the UAE’s shores. Today, more than 650 lawyers from all around the world, including many UAE nationals, are registered with the DIFC Courts.

An increasing number of these are what we call “dual code” practitioners, able to represent their clients in both the civil and common law systems. They typically have a background in one system and have chosen to train in the other so that they can advise their clients on any commercial dispute that may arise.

The Academy of Law helps such practitioners to develop their cross-jurisdictional competence through our “Bridge Series”. The Arabic Series features DIFC common law training in the Arabic language, while the English Series elucidates the UAE Civil Law for those with common law backgrounds.

This practical course, delivered by seasoned lawyers, guides participants through legal theory and practice with the aim of bridging the gap between the UAE’s civil law and common law systems. To date, two editions have taken place, helping dozens to open up new avenues for their careers.

A new generation of lawyers, however, is going even further. Often trained and educated in the UAE, their career horizons are truly international, extending to working in some of the world’s top commercial hubs. In partnership with organisations like BARBRI, the Academy is helping to prepare the most ambitious lawyers in the UAE to sit the exam to become qualified attorneys in New York and California.

While the UAE will continue to be a magnet for top international talent, the country is also now beginning to export a new generation of lawyers schooled in a twin legal system and exceptionally well qualified to serve the needs of international clients.

It is a remarkable achievement and a credit to the depth of legal talent available in the UAE today.

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