The first all-female law firm has opened in Saudi Arabia in what has been hailed as a landmark moment for the country’s legal profession.
According to the Saudi newspaper Arab News, Bayan Mahmoud Al-Zahran opened the firm in Jeddah on Wednesday to specialise in employment and business disputes.
Al-Zahran said her firm, which has four lawyers, will fight for the rights of Saudi women and help the court to understand legal disputes from a female perspective.
She told Arab News: ‘I believe women lawyers can contribute a lot to the legal system. This law firm will make a difference in the history of court cases and female disputes in the kingdom.’
Al-Zahran became the first Saudi woman lawyer in November last year when she appeared at the General Court in Jeddah to defend a client.
A month earlier she and three others were allowed to change their status from legal consultants to attorneys, as well as to own and operate law firms.
The changes have been part of Saudi Arabia’s attempt to open its legal industry to women as part of wider efforts to increase women’s role in society.
But women are still subject to a strict set of rules when appearing before a judge, who still has the power to disregard her counsel.
According to the campaign group Human Rights Watch, girls and women in Saudi Arabia are still forbidden from travelling or undergoing certain medical procedures without permission from their male guardians.