Friday, April 19, 2024

Sofana R. Dahlan’s Approach to Providing Global Legal Solutions

Sofana R. Dahlan’s Approach to Providing Global Legal Solutions


Sofana Dahlan:
Sofana R. Dahlan Law Firm, Founder & Managing Partner
Sofana Dahlan is a pioneering Saudi lawyer and social entrepreneur, known for being the first female lawyer permitted to practice law in Saudi Arabia. With a diverse expertise in corporate and commercial law, intellectual property, arbitration, and mediation, she has successfully resolved conflicts and facilitated settlements for her clients. As a prominent figure in both the private and public sectors, Dahlan has held positions such as Vice Governor for Entrepreneurship Advancement at the Small and Medium Enterprises Authority of Saudi Arabia. She is also the founder of Tashkeil, a social enterprise promoting creative entrepreneurship, and has spoken at prestigious events including TEDx and the World Economic Forum. Dahlan holds degrees in Law, Islamic Law, and an MBA, and has completed executive programs at Harvard University and the University of Oxford.


Starting off, you are the first Saudi woman who was allowed to study law, could you share more about your journey and how that experience has shaped your approach to the legal profession?

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How does your past experience influence your outlook for 2024, and what is the critical element in your strategy to guarantee the success of Sofana R. Dahlan Law Firm?

Sofana Dahlan: My past experiences have fueled my commitment to breaking barriers in the legal profession and significantly influenced my outlook for the Firm. The key component of the Firm’s strategy lies in leveraging our unique position as the pioneering law firm established by a woman, specializing in commercial and corporate law, with a distinct emphasis on creative and cultural industries.

The Firm’s guiding philosophy centres on assisting clients in conflict avoidance and providing innovative legal solutions to ensure maximum protection. Our services extend to international clients, facilitating the seamless establishment and setup of businesses in Saudi Arabia, given its growing status as a sought-after investment destination. Rooted in our commitment to proactively prevent conflicts, the Firm also offers alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, including arbitration and mediation. This commitment enhances our dedication to delivering comprehensive and tailored legal support to our diverse clientele.

Our commitment to diversity and inclusion, coupled with embracing digital transformation and adopting a client-centric approach, underscores our mission to ensure success and contribute to the ongoing evolution of the legal landscape in Saudi Arabia.

Our commitment to diversity and inclusion, coupled with embracing digital transformation and adopting a client-centric approach ensure success

Sofana Dahlan

Sofana R. Dahlan Law Firm has been successfully representing clients since 2014. How has the legal landscape, particularly in the creative industries, evolved over the years, and how has your firm adapted to these changes to continue providing effective legal solutions?

Sofana Dahlan: Since its establishment in 2014, the Firm has successfully navigated the evolving Saudi legal landscape, particularly in the creative industries. The rise in awareness of intellectual property protection in Saudi Arabia has been notable since its IP regulatory framework lacked proper oversight. There were multiple stakeholders that were involved each with different registrationrequirements. For instance, trademark registration was dealt by the Ministry of Commerce, while patent registration was under King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST). This contrasting process made it challenging to navigate and secure legal protection. Nevertheless, the Firm remained steadfast in guiding our clients through these intricacies, ensuring they found effective and creative solutions.
Recently, the governance structure has evolved significantly, and the establishment of the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property (SAIP) in 2018 has streamlined matters. The Firm proactively became early registrants for the IP agent license under SAIP and positioned ourselves at the forefront in providing time-stamping services, showcasing our commitment to staying at the up to date with intellectual property advancements.

The firm operates in three languages, Arabic, English, and French. How does the ability to operate in multiple languages contribute to your firm’s effectiveness in providing legal solutions, especially in the field of creative industries where cultural nuances and language diversity can be crucial?

Sofana Dahlan: The Firm’s proficiency in Arabic, English and French is a crucial asset. Aligned with one of Vision 2030’s goals to attract foreign direct investment (FDI), our Firm envisions itself as a key player in assisting international companies with a soft landing, thereby contributing to the realisation of this Vision. We believe that the legal sector must play a vital role in supporting Saudi Arabia’s efforts to integrate and attract investment. This involves ensuring a seamless navigation of laws and regulations to facilitate international partnerships and trade.

Our multilingual approach also enhances our effectiveness in providing tailored legal solutions, fostering better communication with clients from diverse backgrounds

Sofana Dahlan

Our multilingual approach also enhances our effectiveness in providing tailored legal solutions, fostering better communication with clients from diverse backgrounds, bridging the gap between our international clients and governmental authorities and facilitating international collaborations in the globalized legal landscape. By providing high-quality legal services, our aim is to enhance Saudi Arabia’s global competitiveness and attract a higher influx of FDI.

Building partnerships with leading firms in jurisdictions where the firm may lack specific expertise is a key aspect of your working process. How do these collaborative efforts enhance the overall capabilities of Sofana R. Dahlan Law Firm?

Sofana Dahlan: Collaborating with distinguished firms in jurisdictions where our expertise may be limited is crucial for enhancing the Firm’s overall capabilities. These partnerships allow us to tap into specialised knowledge, diversify our service offerings and provide comprehensive legal support for our clients, solidifying our dedication to excellence and client satisfaction. Presently, we have a partnership with Kobessi and Frangie, specialists in the telecommunications and oil and gas sectors.

How does the firm plan to leverage its position to advocate for positive changes within the legal profession and contribute to broader societal goals in the years to come?

Sofana Dahlan: The Firm aims to leverage its position to advocate for positive changes within the legal profession and contribute to broader societal goals by actively supporting the digitizing of legal services particularly in the private sector, helping to create a more attractive business environment by advising on corporate governance, trade laws and local laws, advocating for the involvement of women lawyers in the decision-making processes and contributing to policy-making initiatives and legal reforms.

On a personal front, I have recently established a company in Abu Dhabi, Legal Digital Solutions (LDS). One of its prominent projects is Mustanad, a digital marketplace designed to connect certified lawyers and law firms with individuals and entities seeking standardized, high quality, user-friendly legal templates in Arabic. Mustanad is not a Saudi centric platform and caters to all Arabic jurisdictions spanning from Morocco to Iraq. Its mission is to contribute to legal services’ reform and advancement through digitization. Another upcoming project of LDS involves the digitalization of alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

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