Every summer from the age of 14 I carried the bags of Edge Ellison’s senior partner Digby (now Lord) Jones and loved everything about the idea of being a lawyer. Oxford University’s jurisprudence degree provided a wonderful introduction to the philosophy of law and the importance of questioning everything against an ethical and societal code.
The experience of working in finance (structuring hedge funds in Switzerland), in-house with MasterCard, in private practice with Clyde & Co, and now looking after a court allows me to relate to most lawyers and business people. It has also taught me that there is very rarely a right answer to a problem, and that the biggest challenge in the world today is that we have every possible tool to communicate but we are worse at it than our parents.
It was a challenge looking after legal issues across 92 countries in south Asia, the Middle East and Africa for MasterCard Worldwide. Talk about spinning plates! A good lawyer is someone who cares about people and a person who, when faced with a boulder in the road, looks for a way around it rather than through it. In my professional life we’ve lost open communication between professions and long client lunches – I’m not sure if this is a gain or a loss.
I hope the legal profession of the future concentrates on its professional values rather than monetary rewards, and remembers how good it is to help people. I owe career success to everyone, especially the secretaries when I was a trainee. They teach a young lawyer humility and how to party.
Dubai is a city which has gone from a fishing village to a global village in 40 years. It has been incredible to be on that journey. Generally, in the Middle East one finds greater flexibility and hospitality than in the UK in all walks of life. There is a saying that in the Middle East there are 1,000 ways to say no, but none of them include the word no. This makes for a less adversarial environment.
Mark Beer is chief executive and registrar, Dubai International Financial Centre courts