The United Arab Emirates is an attractive market for legal job seekers. With many opportunities spanning across multiple industries, attractive salary packages, and a high standard of living, it’s been on the radar of many qualified legal professionals for a long time now. Although local legal qualifications aren’t required to secure a job (like the BAR in the US), there is a strong preference for candidates to have experience with UAE laws. But how can you gain that knowledge and know-how to secure a job without the practical experience? That is where Lawtonomy’s Legal Conversion Programme comes in.
"Lawtonomy is developing online programmes for qualified lawyers to enable geographic and business mobility into and within the UAE. This means legal professionals can relocate to and work in industries in the UAE that they would have found it hard to before"
This article delves into the story behind the start-up and the premise behind the legal conversion progamme as told by Larisa Danilov, the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Lawtonomy.
How did the idea for the legal conversion programme come about?
Our Founder Tony worked as a lawyer in the UAE for 11 years; 5 of those years as the General Counsel of a multi-billion dollar engineering company. Whenever he conducted interviews for legal roles, he received an abundance of applications, but only a small number with UAE experience. For those hired without local experience a large amount of time was dedicated to onboarding given the knowledge and nuances of core practice areas (like contracts, employment law, commercial agency law, incorporation) could only be learnt on the job. Therefore to improve the standard of legal professionals in the market and relieve employers of excessive onboarding schedules, he conceived the idea of the programme.
How did you get involved with Lawtonomy?
My professional background consists of business transformation, account management, and sales across two main sectors; travel and recruitment. What I liked the most of all my prior roles was building things like business relationships, sales pipelines, new products, and high performing teams. Lawtonomy allowed me to do what I like the most, all day, every day, so it was an easy decision to spearhead the company and drive the day to day operations.
How was the content for the modules created?
Not singlehandedly! We partnered with key subject matter experts with UAE experience on the content for each of our modules. We have contributions from in-house lawyers from local and multi-national companies and senior counsel and partners from prominent law firms. You will get to know something no one else knows about each and everyone one of our partners in their introductory video. I wonder which one met with Tom Jones on Valentine’s day and who worked as Tiger Woods look-a-like?!
What can candidates expect from the programme?
They can expect to learn in their preferred format. One thing that was important to us was to create a programme that appeals to everyone. We therefore created materials in different formats including videos, slide decks, and structured handbooks so that every individual can choose the format that most appeals to their preferred style of learning. We also added an assignment and multiple-choice test to each module for reinforcement and to allow individuals to capture key takeaways. A passing grade of 60% is required on each module test in order to earn the Legal Conversion Programme Certificate of completion.
What are you hoping to achieve with this programme?
Our aim for this programme to not only help candidates secure a job in the UAE, but also effortlessly learn the nuances of UAE law to a level that reduces the need for legal onboarding. Allowing legal employers to confidently make hiring decisions, knowing that if a candidate has completed our programme that they will have the materials and know-how of key core practice areas to hit the ground running and excel.
Any plans to create a similar programme for other countries?
We are actively working on a similar programme for Saudi Arabia and have plans for other Gulf countries too. We also have our sights set on creating programmes to enable industry mobility, but that is a story for another day!
Founded in the UAE in 2020 by Tony and Larisa, Lawtonomy’s mission is to enable legal mobility via the delivery of their extensive, thoughtfully designed online programmes. With collectively over 20 years of experience working in the UAE and markets across the Middle East, they understand how difficult information is to find, how hard it is to learn remotely, and have a desire to raise the standard of practicing lawyers in the market.
If you would like to sign up for this programme please get in touch here