DV: Thanks for your time today Stephen, I appreciate that you are very busy at present.
SR: Yes, we are but I am always happy to highlight the work we do at HL&A
DV: Great. So tell us, what brought you to work with HL&A?
SR: I was introduced to Hussain Lootah personally many years ago in relation to a Russian client, whose affairs I was Managing in the UAE at the time and who had been defrauded of more than AED100 million by an unethical Real Estate Agent. Hussain’s Law Firm (HL&A) took on the case, we worked closely together on it and negotiated a fantastic settlement for the client, who was eternally grateful. During that time, Hussain & I became great friends, and he subsequently asked me to become a Director of HL&A; a request of which I gratefully accepted of course, and we have been together ever since!
DV:What have been some highlights of your career?
SR: I was one of the Consultants that restructured and rebuilt Australia’s largest Company (BHP – now BHP Billiton) in the mid-eighties after it was almost taken over by a $2 Company; being technically insolvent at the time under Australian Law. For five years of my life, I worked on BHP as a full-time Consultant and very successfully and effectively played a role in the re-structure that led to it becoming recognised as not only the largest Mining Company in the World but the most successful!
During the nineties, I founded and ran a Financial Consulting business in Australia known as Superannuation Consulting & Advisory Services (SCAS). It became one of Australia’s largest independent, privately owned General Agencies and was successfully sold in the late nineties to a very large emerging Dealership.
I moved to Dubai in early 2004, and have since built a personal history, reputation & success story of which I am very proud. All this has culminated in me helping to lead HL&A to become not only one of the largest local Law Firms in Dubai and the UAE but also one held in the highest possible esteem by the Governments of the UAE, clients, the general public and competitors alike.
I am delighted to say I have had the opportunity to serve Dubai & the Rulers office by actively participating on International Trade Missions around the World in conjunction with JAFZA & DWC (Dubai South) in particular. This has been one of the most fulfilling aspects of my work, on a personal level. I have actively taken part as part of delegations to countries including Germany and China as well as to Brazil and Argentina, that has fostered enduring friendships and commercial successes.
DV: What do you enjoy most about working with the firm and its clients in Dubai?
SR: Most importantly I enjoy being with, near and collectively working with my dearest brother, Hussain Lootah and recently his eldest son, Ahmed – to build this Law Firm into a highly respected Internationally recognized and successful operation, for the benefit of all parties and in particular our clients, many of whom I know personally as friends and work with as clients.
While many would say we have already achieved that, we are only part of the way along the journey to achieve and exceed the extremely high goals we have set ourselves. These men are great people in every sense of the word, and it is my honour and privilege to work alongside them.
Thank God that we have been brought together and I have been given this truly unique opportunity – Humdallah!
DV: How do you think Legal professionals can improve and what do you do to be more client-centric?
SR: Yes, it can improve right across the board generally and specifically those Firms who work virtually exclusively on an hourly basis need to start providing honest value for money in my view and be far more client focused. Enough said on that issue; I don’t wish to disclose trade secrets!
DV: Do you think there is a reason to be optimistic about the business opportunities in the region and if so, why?
SR: Definitely! The quite incredible achievements to date by the Rulers of Dubai both past and present and in particular our current Ruler, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and his visionary father, HH Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, have shown us that virtually anything is possible if you are committed 100%.
We live in an Emirate with virtually no natural resources, a climate that most Western people consider very difficult if not impossible to live in but look at what has been achieved; particularly for me in the last fourteen (14) years that I have personally witnessed and directly helped to achieve; we can and will deliver whatever we commit our minds to under the leadership and direction of HH Sheikh Mohammed.
Yes, there are going to be bumps along the road, both isolated and local to Dubai and the UAE and of a Global Scale. The 2008 Global Financial Crisis still reverberates. The current instability caused by the terrorists trying to overthrow the legitimate Yemeni Government and the unacceptable situation in which we find ourselves in reference to Qatar, to name just a few issues. But I firmly believe that we will persist and continue to build our beloved Dubai into one of the safest & most attractive cities in which to live, work and play in the World. To me, we are living in Paradise already! I intend to continue to play a leading role in that journey.
DV: How do you think new technology will impact the legal sector in the region?
SR: It will ultimately have a substantial impact, but it will be slower and less impactful than most other Industries. This is simply because, in my view, success in the Legal Industry is achieved by giving honest quality advice & delivering concrete results to real clients (both Corporate & individual) on a personal & face to face basis. No technology will change that client experience for a very long time, however, we see how technology can overhaul the “backroom” of Law Firms, generally in a very positive way and this is just part of continuous operational improvement.
DV: What are some of the challenges the legal sector faces in the region?
SR:You have identified one of them, accepting and effectively adopting Technological change without negatively affecting the relationship between Firm and client. Also crucial in my view, is modifying the Fee basis upon which clients are charged, to a more flexible structure which they want & therefore will accept more readily.
I believe that at HL&A we have made great strides in this area. I also think that we are well ahead of most of our Competitors because of that fact, as well as a genuine focus on client satisfaction. “Success of our clients is our success” that is the motto & value system by which we measure ourselves at HL&A!
DV: Thanks for your insight Stephen. How might someone contact you for assistance?
SR: I am happy to be contacted on +97143320004 or +971508538620 or
via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Interviewed by David Varcoe in Dubai 7th October 2017. All rights reserved.