The New Republic of Plato; Dr. Hani Sari-eldin, on management, law, and politics
Hani Sari-eldin, the all too known lawyer is a figure in the legal field. yet, little is known about his point of view on plenty of matters.
in this interview, we ask the man behind the entity on his views… and words.
At the very beginning, Can you please give us a brief glimpse about the firm history?
The firm has been established in 2007. At the beginning we focused on the capital market and corporate law. Later on we developed the firm practices, for instance, we developed the banking department, procedure and litigation department, and arbitration department. Also, we have developed a very strong department in PPP.
Professional lawyers have always a selection process in relation to hiring new attorneys, what is the selection process of the office?
Our main point in this issue is quality, we here at the firm greatly pay attention to the high quality of applicants. Another thing that we do care about is giving opportunity to young generations. In fact we utterly support people who wish to develop their legal career and aiming to achieve sustainability. Simply, we as a firm support development and improvement and we are ready to support every applicant that is ready to learn and to develop.
Do you do some work as a pro bono?
We have a certain policy for pro bono work. And, I am proud to say that most of the mega projects of the governments we take as pro bono. Also, the projects and work of public entities, drafting laws and executive regulations all of these we do it pro bono. We consider this as our duty and our role in public contribution.
Every famous law firm has a certain working culture; can you tell us about the firm working culture?
In relation to our working culture, I have always dreamed of building a law firm rather than an individual institution. I have always wished to gather experienced talented practitioners and establish a firm with highly developed legal community.
So, my main concern is to keep this firm for other generations to come, and leaving a legacy.
I would say that our main point is to build a firm that is not attached to one single partner, but to a group of high experienced legal practitioners.
Before being a lawyer, Had you ever thought of applying to the judicial sector?
My late father and my uncle were lawyers since the 1930’s. I remember when I was a child I used to spend my holidays at courts and law firms with my father and relatives. Honestly, I have never thought of doing something else other than practicing law.
Furthermore, I was lucky enough to be appointed as assistant lecturer of commercial law at Cairo University after graduation from college. I take pride in being a lawyer. My advice to everyone is to pursue a career that you love, and DO NOT go for other choices.
Normally every law firm has its own criteria in dealing with clients, can you tell us about this criteria?
The firm has a clear policy about this matter. We’re always determined to provide our clients with the highest quality service. I was taught that lawyers should have the same ethics of medical practitioners. They should be able to gain clients’ trust and confidence. Unfortunately, in our field we do face two challenges. First: some lawyers do not keep their clients updated, thus not involving them in their own life matters.
Second: most of the lawyers are not fond of administrative work such as invoicing. In the firm we are keen to do so in order to keep the institutional framework.
You were the chairman of the Egyptian Market Authority and in the board of directors of the Central Bank, How did that add value to the Firm?
I think that I am blessed in getting the chance through the development of my career to be diversified and exposed to different expertise. I worked in Dubai as a general council particularly as CEO of a certain group, which added a lot to my profession. I got the opportunity to learn administrative work along with knowing more about the in-house council work nature and how business owners think. Regarding my affiliation with the government as the chairman of the Egyptian Market Authority, this was essential in understanding the governmental organizations work. In fact this combination taught me a lot of different things that were important in developing my legal career. For instance, I have learnt how to deal with different institutions with different ways of thinking and backgrounds.
Nowadays, it is preferable to be a Law firm, rather than a Law office, what do you think of this, and how partners add value to firms?
Actually this matter is of a crucial importance. Having different professional practitioners in one firm enables providing higher quality of services. It helps creating sustainability and expansion. Furthermore, we as partners in the firm contribute to each other’s knowledge.
Many Laws have been enacted recently like the new investment Law, What do you think of that Law?
In fact it is not only the Law that can solve all the problems. We should consider the Law as an instrument to achieve well planned economic and social policies. We need laws that reflect the clear policies, proper implementation of laws and regulations, and proper institutional implementation of laws but our main problem is not investment law, but the lack of clear investment policies and the poor implementation of laws and regulations. Another massive problem we face is the high percentage of unemployment and the lack of jobs. This high percentage of unemployment has led to the existence of poor investment policy. So, it is not Law that implies challenges but rather the surrounding circumstances.
As an expert politician, what do you think of the Egyptian political situation?
I think that the situation in Egypt is much better than it was 3 or 4 years ago. However, we do have some challenges like the lack of focus on political objectives. The second challenge is the insufficient means of dealing economic reformation. As I stated before we need to focus on making clear efficient policies rather than making new projects.
In addition to this, there has been negligence for the social policies sector; such policies should work in connection with economic and political policies.
As a managing partner of one of the big law firms, can you tell us about your future plans for the firm?
My dream has always been creating a leading firm not only in Egypt but in the region also. The real success for me is to be at the top in the market without the name of the firm attached to the founder. I do really hope to see new generations carrying the responsibility and leading the firm to even better and higher levels.
The Law firm has different practices, do you prefer specialization or to be exposed to all the legal practices?
In fact, we should differentiate in this matter between a firm and a lawyer. For a firm it can be diverse or exposed to different legal subjects. But, as a lawyer you should focus from one to three subjects maximum. Logically, no lawyer that can handle civil cases, criminal cases, and commercial cases. The entire world now is based on specialization not only in law, but also in all majors. That’s why firms are important as they help in expansion.
As a well experienced Lawyer, How do you see the legal field now and in the future?
First of all, the market can’t be separated from the legal profession. Once, we do have strong market in general we would be able to have strong legal field. The main challenge that affects the legal field in my point of view is the bad quality of law graduates based on the low quality of the legal education in Egypt.
Secondly, the importance of continuing legal education has been totally ignored. Consequently, we usually do miss a lot of updated laws and regulations domestically and internationally
Thirdly, most of the work is concentrated in Cairo and a bit less in Alexandria. This has led to the devotion of most of the work in the above mentioned cities, respectively. And increased the percentage of unemployment in the other cities around Egypt.
It has been said that Law is similar to medical studies, always required updating and developing, what do think of that?
It is a must. Years don’t necessarily make you a better lawyer. A higher position should be based on of number of studies, not number of years. I have to say it is not only theoretical studies that should be required but also to be involved in practical work.
Another thing, we need to develop and improve the legal education including continuous education& practical skills that many law graduates and students lack.
- Top universities nowadays offer a kind of merging courses like law and economics, how do you see this?
Single discipline in the modern world does not exist anymore. This combination between law and other subjects like economics has become a worldwide phenomenon. Currently, most of the top law universities provide their students a combined degree. I believe that law graduates with good business background are more eligible to be leading in their areas of practice. Also, law graduates with political backgrounds are more eligible to join international organizations like the United Nations.
When I went to UK I specialized in law and economics development at Queen Mary University, this helped a lot in developing my legal career, and in developing the firm.
Usually many successful people face critics, do you face this, and how do you react to this?
Critics are everywhere; one must be objective as possible and learn from them. Sometimes you will have answers and sometimes not, the best you can do is not taking them personally and try to learn from these critics.
Do you have any activities other than Law?
Since I graduated from university I was able to multi-task. I work as a lawyer, law professor, participated in some non-profit organizations, member of board of trustees of 57357 and other roles.
I have to say that I am really and proud of being part of some of non-profit organizations. I do hope to be a part of non-profit organizations that related to legal education, and I am ready to do more to develop the legal market and the legal education.
- As a managing partner of one of the famous law firms of course you have a message for your clients, employees, and partners, what are they?
To my clients: the firm and I would like to thank you for your trust. We promise maintain your satisfaction and meet your needs with the highest quality of services.
To the younger generations: Fight for your dreams, and never give up. I, like other lawyers, graduated from standard non-privileged law schools. But with hard work it all pays off. You can do the same or even better with hard work and exerting effort.
To my partners: I am really grateful for them we can’t be successful law firm and on the top without the support we provide for each other and working together hand in hand.
By: Hoda Nafae