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Posted by ebw

Elena Schildgen

Apr
14
2014
elena

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I graduated from the Faculty of Law at the University of Passau, Germany in 1988 specializing in International Private Law and achieving a Certificate in Subject Specific Language Education in English.

In 1990 I spent 5 months of my law training in a law office in Dubai, “Meyer-Reumann Legal Consultancy” which was later on renamed in Meyer-Reumann & Partners, as it is still called now. The idea to apply as a woman for an apprenticeship in Dubai, UAE was triggered by the time that I had visited my parents in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, between 1982 and 1986. Having had very fond memories of my trips and appreciating the exceptional opportunity it gave me to see a country that is usually excluded for visitors I was keen to see if Dubai could offer similar possibilities. The work and life environment I found at that time was all that I had hoped and imagined during my studies and although I lived through the effects of the Kuwait invasion during my apprenticeship I accepted the job offer that I received at the end of my stay. I returned to Germany only to pass my final law examination and got admitted to the bar. In March 1991 I joined the firm as Junior Lawyer and in relatively short time was made partner in 1995 at that time being only one of very few women as partners in a law firm in Dubai. Indeed many times I had faced the question of visitors i.e. Westerners how I could work as a lawyer and a woman in an Arabic and Islamic country, but in my work in the UAE I always felt that I was rather perceived through my abilities than through gender. I truly believe that I would not have had the same opportunity back home. In my view Dubai is a wonderful place for women to pursue a career and seeing how much the number of women in the legal profession has increased since I started shows this. While pursuing a career I got married had two daughters and as all working mother am striving to achieve what is so famously called “work-life balance”. I have to be grateful to the support of my husband, his and my family and good house help that I was able to continue to work full time. I would think my biggest achievement is that I always followed my instincts and found the right career path for me which suits my abilities even if some of my decisions were unusual or even unpopular at the time with friends and family. I take pride in having contributed to develop with my partners a network of offices from just one law office in Dubai now to multiple offices in many of the GCC countries and we are still planning to expand. I seem to have managed to inspire my daughters to be ambitious and at least one of them has voiced her wish to become a lawyer as well!

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