Born in Baghdad, raised in Paris, studied in London, in love with Dubai

Mays Jubair, trainee at Pinsent Masons in Dubai, says future lawyers should look to the UAE


My life has always had an international flavour to it. Born in Iraq, I moved to France in 1990 when I was five-years-old at the very beginning of the Iraq and Kuwait war. I’ll never forget this experience. We’d intended to go to France for a holiday! As soon as war broke out my parents decided we were safer in France so we stayed for good. This was the best decision for our family.

Growing up, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer. The discipline of law, particularly on an international level has always appealed to me. It’s a typical story I’m afraid – it runs in the family. My grandfather was a lawyer in Iraq back in the 1950s and my grandmother was a clerk. My mother always tells me that my grandmother and I are very similar in looks and personality. So it makes sense that I followed in her footsteps.

Settled and happy in France, I didn’t expect to start my career in Dubai. It’s an international hotspot which is of course appealing. But moving here just wasn’t on my radar. My parents decided to relocate here just as I was graduating from my LLB and I jumped at the chance to try something new. Why not? I’d already made such a big step moving to France all those years ago. If I could make such a big step when I was five, I could do it as an adult.

I started at Masons-Galadari as a paralegal. Pinsent Masons’ legacy firm, Masons, was in a joint venture with Galadari at the time. I studied for my Masters in Business Law in France at Sorbonne University on a distance learning course. It was very hard at the beginning, between my work as a paralegal and my masters. But the firm was very supportive and I was allowed time off to study.

The firm has changed so much. It’s grown in size but also its profile and prestige has transformed in recent years. Pinsent Masons is well known for its worldwide success, and blueprint clients in construction, particularly in the Gulf. The client base and reputation is fantastic for me because I have had such amazing deal experience.

Being offered a training contract at Pinsent Masons was a very proud day for me. I’d seen so many trainees come and go in Dubai and now it was my chance to shine and take the next step in my career. It also meant I could live in the UK to complete my GDL and LPC. This was challenging for me, particularly because I was preparing to get married at the same time. But I discovered multi-tasking is one of my skills and somehow I made it work. There’s no doubt balancing a long distance relationship with my future career was tough but I learned a lot from this experience.

Now I am in my second seat, construction and disputes, I’m relishing the opportunity to be involved with major, complex disputes. There is so much to learn in Dubai and I’m pleased that I’ve been able to work in two of the prominent industry sectors here – projects (my first seat) and construction.

Considering that the UAE has grown out of a desert into a metropolis, the sheer variety and number of unique cases that are dealt with on a day-to-day basis is exciting. This is a dynamic country where we have a huge variety of international clients which makes my working life is diverse and fascinating.

My international background is not unusual here. One of our clients is from Singapore, married to an English woman, studied in Amsterdam and now lives in Dubai. I love hearing about all the different backgrounds and stories of how they came to be in the region. It’s one of the best things about being here.

I would thoroughly recommend trainee lawyers seek to spend some time in the UAE. It’s an amazing opportunity that brings great challenges and a rich cultural and social life. For me, I’m ready for my next challenge – settling into London life to complete my traineeship. I can’t wait to apply everything I have learnt so far and take on fresh challenges. Although, the cooler and more refreshing climate may take some getting used to.