By R. Jason Huf
Some of you may have obtained entry to the "Monastery" (as I've taken to calling my office) as and when business has required. However, for most of those reading this, I realize that I'm letting you in on a little secret: the advertised address of JHI's NYC HQ office is just a mail stop associated with a shared space & services operation on the 6th floor of good old 11 Broadway. To maintain my strict "No Pop-Ins" Policy, the exact location of the Firm Headquarters Office/ Monastery's actual physical presence is kept confidential, and that confidence is only breached when necessary.
Being able to advertise the mail stop as the office address, and the convenience of renting conference room space by the hour on the 6th floor, both enable me to concentrate on my work with minimal interruption. In addition to this "buffer", availing myself of the shared services when certain tasks need to be performed rather efficiently assists me with keeping costs down, which in turn contributes to my ability to maintaining hourly rates that are very competitive.
(As an old boss of mine used to say, "This is not the Fish Market"; but, with our competitive rates and innovative price structures, there may not be much need for you to bargain when seeking high-quality, world-class International Legal Services that your company can afford)
Perhaps most fundamentally to those of you (still) reading this piece, JHI can make available to your company the seamless provision of professional services spanning just about the entire legal prism, without having to figure massive overhead costs into our hourly rates (or more innovative billing arrangements). The outfit that runs the 6th floor operation only caters to attorneys, and many of these attorneys elect to house their firms and solo practices in physical office space on the site. Irrespective of the level of their arrangement, all who participate in some form or another are listed in a directory and, over time, some of us get to know each other reasonably well.
These attorneys practice in virtually every area of the law, and possess a variety of experience levels. In short, I have at my fingertips a storehouse of legal minds to draw upon, from commercial real estate specialists, to business litigators, to tax professionals - even a very smart fellow who focuses on energy trading. And, like myself, they tend to maintain a relatively unburdensome level of overhead costs, which in turn, permits them to be reasonable with their fees as well.
A few people still tend to think of my practice as rather narrow, until I dispell them of that illusion - JHI is a Commercial, Corporate, Energy & Banking law firm and we perform a wide range of services for clients hailing from a broad variety of industries. We just happen to have extensive experience in the Middle East, which may occassionally give rise to some folks instinctively thinking of JHI as a boutique servicing a particular "specialty" area. However, JHI's capabilities are even broader than I previously reasoned:
Between the NYC HQ, our Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Office, additional reources in the UAE (Abu Dhabi & Dubai) and access to Singapore and various major cities in India, JHI as a Brand is known as a capable provider of professional services in the Middle East and South Asia, ranging from company formation to arbitration, for those who have invested - or are looking to invest - in those regions in the world.
What JHI is not (yet) necessarily known for is our ability to assist businesses based in the Middle East and elsewhere with their expansion into the US "mega-market". Whether you are an individual foreign investor entering through the EB-5 Visa process, or a family-owned conglomerate of businesses looking to invest in US real estate, or a publicly traded company in Riyadh entering a joint venture, or a participant in the new US public-private partnerships designed to reform the nation's infrastructure, JHI is well-placed to help get you started as well as protect your US-side business interests down the road.
We have access to an entire network of intellectual assets encompassing a variety of practice areas ordinarily comanded only by big law firms, without having to factor "big firm" overhead into our fees. So, when investing from West to East, or East to West, consider the cost-effective but powerful option of contacting JHI for your legal needs.
Feel the difference and put our NYC HQ and affiliated Community of Attorneys to work for you in concert with our Jeddah office and/ or resources in the UAE, India & Singapore (wherever you're from!) as we help you and your company Explore the Boundaries of Your Business.
– Jason Huf
Wednesday, August 8, 2017
New York, NY
Aug 8, 2017 7:01 PM
By R. Jason Huf
Jun 23, 2017 11:40 AMJHI wishes our many friends in the Muslim world a happy Eid al-Fitr. We hope you enjoy the celebration of the spiritual, intellectual and human growth you and your families achieved during the month of Ramadan.We would also like to advise clients and friends who do not observe this holiday to expect office closures throughout the Middle East region, including JHI resources in Saudi Arabia & the United Arab Emirates, during the holiday.
Jun 9, 2017 1:34 PMSaudi Arabia's (KSA) new Companies Law of 2015 came into effect on May 2, 2016. At JHI, we wished to see the new law in practice and how it would be enforced by Saudi authorities before commenting. In the meantime, much has already been written about the new law and we need not cover the same ground here.Of particular interest to clients and potential clients of JHI is, we believe, the law's provision of the option of Sole Proprietorships (or "Single-Shareholder" companies), and how applications for the licensing and registration of such by foreign investors are treated by the Ministry of Commerce and Investment and the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA).As a general matter, the new law provides that SAGIA may continue to impose additionally stringent incorporation requirements on companies being established with the backing of foreign investors. While the process of approving incorporation applications has been somewhat streamlined at SAGIA, a certain level of uncertainty, especially at the beginning stages of such an application, remains.When considering establishing or reforming an entity in the KSA, JHI feels that if a foreign investor has a trustworthy local partner/ agent (or "sponsor") then, for the time being, it may remain prudent to make use of such local parties when doing business in the Kingdom. In addition to possibly enjoying a smoother approval process, one might avoid any potential bureaucratic pushback by some recalcitrant officials who may still be resistant to the Vision 2030 reforms more generally.The relationship with one's local sponsor can be further clarified via a side letter to the sponsorship agreement. Such sideletters have been enforced by Saudi courts with increasing regularity. And, JHI hopes that the provision for Single-Shareholder companies in the new Companies Law is not seen by the local judiciary as a rationale for reversing this trend.We will have more to say about the execution and enforement of the new Companies Law and other reforms as events (rapidly) progress. Speaking of events, recent news indicates a very real likelihood of a shift in the direction of investment capital flowing between the Untied States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.Where the Riyals of the Sovereign Wealth Fund go, other Saudi-based investment capital tends to follow. With that in mind, JHI is seriously considering offering the shepherding of EB-5 (Investor) Visa applications to the menu of professional services our firm offers to incoming companies that invest in the United States, particularly New York, Pennsylvania and/ or New Jersey, where Mr. Huf is admitted to bar. JHI will have more to say on this in the near future as well.
May 26, 2017 1:15 PMIn the United States, we set aside one day to remember those who have fallen in war, defending our freedoms. But, there isn't a single day wherein we forget. We hope that you and yours enjoy the holiday weekend, and that we all take a little time to say a prayer of rememberance and gratitude for our fallen heroes and their families this Memorial Day.
We all die, the only variables are where, when and how - and, sometimes, why. They may be gone, but our war dead are never lost. These soldiers, sailors, airmen & marines are forever in our hearts.
To all of our friends around the world who observe the Holy Month of Ramadan, we at JHI hope that you and your families enjoy a meaningful period of dedication to fasting, reflection and prayer during this period of tremendous changes throughout the Middle East. May your loved ones take this holiday as an opportunity grow closer to each other, your neighbors, the less fortunate and the whole of humanity.We wish you good health in the year ahead. Ramadan Mubarak!
Feb 9, 2017 7:12 PM
Near the close of 2016, while the West was focused on the High Holidays, a new American President and the NFL Post-Season that would culminate in a historic Super Bowl LI, the government of Saudi Arabia (KSA) leapt into the 21st Century - literally.
Under the direction of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with the full support of his father King Salman, the Saudi Government officially abandoned the Hijri Calendar (the Islamic, lunar calendar which begins with the Prophet Mohammed's trek from Mecca to Medina and the establishment of the first-ever Islamic state), and has adpoted the "Gregorian" calendar (named after Pope Gregory XIII, the solar calendar predominantly used as the civil calendar in the West and elsewhere, which begins one week following the Roman church's, and the day of the Eastern Orthodox churches', traditionally espoused birth of Jesus Christ; the civil calendar used in the West arbitrarily measures months as being either 28/29, 30 or 31 days in length).
Initially functioning as a budget cutting measure, with government employees receiving the same monthly salaries while working an additional eleven (11) days of the year, its the eternal questions of "what next?" that holds the world's attention as those with commercial ties to the KSA wait the other shoe(s) to drop. What are the other consequences, both intended and unintended, of the Saudi government's adherence to this new calendar? How, if at all, will this impact governance and/ or commerce in the Kingdom?
Saudi Arabia is, and was founded to be, an Islamic state. Its Constitution is the Quran. The change from a calendar that is dear to their faith and which honors the pilgrimage of their holiest and most revered prophet, to a calendar created by a Roman military dictator and revised by a Catholic Pontiff is, in and of itself, revolutionary.
For now, its impact is seen strictly as a government austerity measure. Nonetheless, and predictably, the more conservative elements of Saudi society, including the clerics with whom the King shares and exercises power, are resisting this particular change. They presently appear to center their resistance around their concern that the masses will not adhere as faithfully as they have in the past to the holy month of Ramadan (which, like all months in the Hijri calendar, is measured by the lunar cycle).JHI is confident that good muslims will adhere to Ramadan, just as good christians adhere to Easter, the date of which is determined by the advent of the Jewish observance of the Passover holiday (the Jewish calendar measures months by lunar cycles, occasionally adding a month to make up the discrepancy in days between 12 lunar months and one solar year; thus, while Passover - and the subsequent Christian Easter - are celebrated on the same days of year, every year, on the Jewish calendar, they are celebrated at different times of the year on the civil, or "Gregorian", calendar).
Neverless, acquiescence to the Saudi government's new calendar will not occur overnight. As conservative elements tend to dominate the judiciary, and are well-ensconced in the various levels of the bureaucracy in the KSA, JHI feels that for the time being it remains prudent to continue to use language referencing the "Gregorian" calendar as controlling in the boilerplate of contracts and other documents pertaining to business in the Kindgdom of Saudi Arabia - including and especially those documents related to participation in government projects, whether as a contractor or sub-contractor.
JHI will continue to follow the evolution of this particular change, and other developments related to the Vision 2030 reforms, as the Deputy Crown Prince pulls his country into the 21st Century - both metaphorically and literally.
Dec 19, 2016 2:36 PM
During the last week of September, immediately following the opening of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York, a series of seminars, workshops and interactive displays collectively coined "A Day in Riyadh" was showcased at the UN. This week-long "Riyadh Day" was sponsored by the High Commission for the Development of Arriyadh (Riyadh), and particularly featured the ongoing work of the Arriyadh (Riyadh) Development Authority (ADA). As a Representative (Observer) for a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) to the UN, and an attorney with an office in Saudi Arabia, Mr. Huf, Principal of JHI, was pleased and excited to attend.
Focused on the capital city of Saudi Arabia (KSA, or the Kingdom) and the governate (province) of Riyadh, the series of presentations covered subjects relevant to the economy, culture, commerce and development of the entire Kingdom, and the Arab and Islamic worlds more generally.
Of particular interest to those who follow this space will be the planned reformation of Riyadh's transportation system which, if fully executed, may be the single-largest public works project on earth during the period of construction. However, we will list all of the subjects covered by the panel presentations at the UN between September 27 - 30, to provide a broad look at the planned continued development of Riyadh (one of the chief purposes of the conference) which, in turn, may give us a better view of the Kingdom-wide social and economic reforms known as Saudi Arabia's "Vision 2030".
9/27 "Riyadh: Planning for People" - the overall City Plan (by 2030) moving forward, including details on Riyadh's new "Smart City" initiative.
9/28 "Riyadh: A Sustainable & People-Friendly City" - details concerning the Sustainable Development of Riyadh.
9/29 "Riyadh: On the Move" - The King Abdulaziz Project for Riyadh Public Transport.
9/30 "Riyadh: Development of Civilization and Social Partnership" - Plans for the continued social, economic and intellectual development of the city's population in line with Islamic principles and the traditions of Arabia, particularly youth and especially young women, empowering them to take a more active role in the growth of the city and the future of the Kingdom as a whole.
(Jason Huf and Dr. Sana Alorf. Dr. Sana is extraordinary, but not unique. She is a medical doctor working in Riyadh who also participates in many charitable and civic endeavors. She volunteered, along with many other young Saudis, to travel to New York and talk about their culture, heritage and way of life in side bars at the exhibition. Many ladies are taking up professions [including and increasingly fields such as law, medicine and science], starting businesses and participating in life outside their homes in the Kingdom. Dr. Sana has a wealth of information that dispells many of the illusions concerning Saudi society and highlights the progress Saudi women have made - and continue to make.)
The public transortation project, scheduled for completion in 2018, is a massive affair that could revolutionize life in Riyadh. In addition to a new bus service, the project includes the construction of a commuter railway (Riyadh Metro) with six lines, dozens of stations, a main terminal for each line, and services areas at each stop, including large-scale shopping complexes at each of the main terminals. Anticipating use by roughly 3.6 million residents daily, over 3,000 transport stands will be constructed to accomodate waiting commuters.
With billions of Saudi Riyals being invested into the project, and given the rather brief time frame, this will generate a labor boom in the capital for qualified Saudis and expatriates. Mr. Huf asked Eng. Hassan Al Musa, Deputy Director of the Transport Planning Department of the High Commission for the Development of Riyadh, if resources had been allocated to process what should be a substantial spike in Visa applications. Potential contractors and subcontractors will be interested to know that the Deputy Director responded that his office is in touch with the Ministry of Labor on a regular basis as they set up for this contingency. So long as employers comply with their filing requirements, he said, there should be no delays in the project caused by a labor shortage brought about by paperwork backlogs.
(Eng. Hassan Al Musa and Jason Huf. Mr. Huf found him to be capable, earnest and modest. Although entrusted with day-to-day management of a massive public works project that progresses under a tight schedule, he always gives credit to others, refering to his "Army" of dedicated public servants. "That makes you a General", responded Mr. Huf, who later added, "Eng. Hassan is a nice guy".)
In addition to the lifestyle transformation and relief of traffic congestion that will take place once this project is complete, young Saudis who are lacking in resources such as cars of their own will be able to much more easily venture beyond the confines of their own neighborhoods to look for satisfying work and important educational opportunities. And, everyone who lives in Riyadh should enjoy the benefit of cleaner air arising from fewer cars on the highways.
The entire program provided a window through which one could sample Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, the rapid modernization and other wide-ranging reforms ordered by King Salman and spearheaded by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with the aim of guiding a modern but authentically Islamic Saudi Arabia that remains true to its people's history and traditions into a future "Post-Oil" economy.
These reforms include the KSA's Sustainable Development program, which closely follows the UN's Sustainable Development Goals while keeping in conformity with Kingdom's Islamic principles; increased opportunities for youth & women; and, Saudi Arabia's nuclear power program.
At JHI, we have offered our own modest suggestions for the shaping of such sweeping reforms, with an emphasis on attracting increased Foreign Direct Investment in the Saudi market.
With an incoming US Administration that seems keen on utilizing America's energy resources; and, (if feasible) working with Russia to defeat ISIS (which, in addition to commiting henious atrocities, has been fighting forces led directly or indirectly by the Iranians), some may see such investment from the West as slow in coming, and the KSA's reception of it to be less-than-enthusiastic.
Seen by some as signalling potential push-back against the further development of US energy resources and other recent or possible future policy changes, Prince Alaweed bin Talal of Kingdom Holding Company (Saudi Arabia's soverign investment apparatus) suggested selling holdings previously classified "not sellable" (such as shares in Citi Group and US Treasury bonds), which would be a divorce from Saudi Arabia's long-standing policy of having "buy-ins" in important American economic institutions and, thus, the American economy - effectively giving the US a stake in the KSA's existence and continued success.
Noises concerning such potential push-back seem unlikely to stem the increased exploitation of US energy resources (another dip in the price of oil, for example, would seem more likely to give pause to an increase in US production). And, the US-Saudi alliance of over seven decades, while fraying a bit over the last several years, should remain rather tightly tethered: after ISIS is destroyed, a check on Iranian ambition will have been eliminated, and the US and the KSA will more clearly and simply share strong interests in containing Iran and managing increasingly complicated relationships with Russia.
In fact, the strong relationships the KSA enjoys with the West, the interest Western countries have in seeing the continued modernization of Arab states, and Western companies' keen eye to continue - and, possibly increase - their investments in the Gulf region were reinforced recently by UK Prime Minister Theresa May in her mid-December visit to the Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Bahrain.
Pending changes to the Kingdom's commercial and corporate laws, which continue to be rolled out, and given at least one or two geopolitical uncertainties, JHI presently and on the whole views it likely that the environment for Foreign Investors will become even more attractive as the Vision 2030 reforms are implemented in the KSA. As to the Great Social & Economic Reformation of the Kingdom known as "Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030", Mr. Huf doesn't think its on par with the Maji Restoration (the radical transformation experienced in Japan during the late 19th century), but he does see it as the most significant series of reforms in the history of the KSA since the reign of King Faisal (perhaps in the Kingdom's entire history - we'll see) and the most positive collection of developments to take place in the Arab world thus far in this new, turbulent 21st century - and, he certainly viewed the exhibition at the UN positively.
Nov 4, 2016 2:36 PMDuring 2016, Mr. Huf had the opportunity to meet with both the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) and the President of the UN General Assembly for the 2015-16 term. As a Representative (Observer) to the UN on behalf of the New York County Lawyers' Association (NYCLA), a recognized Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Mr. Huf took a keen interest in what they had to say.
(Left to Right: H.E. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations; and, Jason Huf)
Nearing the end of his second term, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been very earnest in showcasing and attempting to make effective his crowning accomplishment: the UN Sustainable Development Treaty (the Treaty), which garnered a record number of member states joining as signatories.In April, the Secretary-General reached out to the private sector, in particular the US Legal Community in New York City, to see what they could do to help promote and ensure the success of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are embodied in the Treaty (for more on the SDGs specifically, we invite you to peruse www.un.org).While the underlying purpose of the SDGs is noble (after all, who doesn't like clean air & water, equal rights, rule of law and the like), as lawyers we are limited to providing our corporate clients with legal advice, not business or public relations advice. We can only advise our clients on how to be compliant with the laws and regulations of the relevant jurisdiction(s). If a client were to invest in, say, Saudi Arabia (KSA) in such a manner that it promotes gender equality in that market, it may be a terrific selling point - but, that's a PR decision, not a legal requirement.We will discuss gender equality and other relevant issues in the KSA when providing JHI's write-up on Mr. Huf's attendance at and observations of the week-long "Riyadh Day" presentations at the UN. As to the promotion and enforcement of the SDG's, it really is up to the signatories to pass executing legislation before attorneys can advise on how to comply with such provisions. And let's face it, only government can concentrate the resources and power necessary to execute such sweeping and extensive changes.The odds of that happening really have to be measured on a state-by-state basis. As to the Western states, Mr. Huf points out that in politics there is an ebb and flow, with a pendulum that swings right and left, and the present trend appears to be one wherein Western countries are electing more conservative, business-friendly governments. If Mr. Huf is correct, then issues such as combating "climate change", for example, will (for the time being at least) take a back seat to pro-energy policies that are likely to be adopted by such governments.Irrespective of what one thinks of the feasibility of accomplishing the SDGs by the target date of 2030, no one should doubt the Secretary-General's sincerity in wanting these goals to be accomplished, or what he views as the UN's power to shepherd such change. Mr. Huf found His Excellency's sincerity, passion and enthusiasm to be obvious in that he wears it on his sleeve. He also thinks it obvious that the Secretary-General is highly intelligent, exceedingly accomplished, and a very nice man.Its a remarkable life story, really. From UN Refugee to UN Secretary-General: finding himself to be a UN refugee at age 6 with the outbreak of the Korean War, to becoming an advocate for lasting peace as the Republic of Korea's (South Korea's) Foreign Minister, to being Secretary-General of the international body that once shielded him and his family as young refugee, he proudly says "I am a UN Boy".
(Left to Right: Morgens Lykketoft (Denmark), then-President of the United Nations General Assembly; and, Jason Huf)
On the subject of choosing his successor as Secretary-General, Mr. Huf had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Morgens Lykketoft, formerly the Finance Minister of Denmark who, until this September, served as President of the UN General Assembly.Mr. Lykketoft provided an overview of changes to the selection process. Perhaps the most fundamental innovation is the vetting of candidates by member states that occurs prior to the vote taken by the Security Council members.Whereas in past years the entire process of selecting a Secretary-General was dominated by the "Big Five" (the permanent Security Council members: the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom & France), candidates for their consideration are now first reviewed, narrowed down and subsequently voted upon by the General Assembly.The Security Council is not bound by any recommendation made or preference expressed by the General Assembly; however, to elect a candidate that was not considered favorably by the General Assembly would be to risk a divide between the Secretariat (the executive wing and permanent bureaucracy of the UN, which the Secretary-General heads) and the member states themselves (upon which the very legitimacy of the UN relies).On the other hand, this increased, more hands-on role by the member states and the General Assembly as a whole could provide for greater transparency in the selection process and, when heeded by the Security Council, may lead to greater consensus between the General Assemby and Secretariat.This year, the revised process produced the election of Antonio Guterres, former Prime Minister of Portugal who once served as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. He will take over the office of Secretary-General in January of 2017.In addition to achieving the SDG's, Mr. Guterres's efforts are promised to be focused on continued reform of the UN bureaucracy; continued streamlining, expansion and enhancement of refugee assistance; and, very prominently, an aggressive new "surge" in diplomacy for peace - an intensification in seeking resolution to the wide proliferation of conflicts around the world, especially those conflicts that have led to several severe refugee crises currently plaguing humankind globally.JHI congratulates Mr. Guterres on his election after a months-long campaign that included a rigorous review process resulting in consensus in both the General Assembly and (somewhat remarkably) the Security Council as well; and, cautions: careful what you wish for, sir - because now you've got it.The retiring Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, even after all of his success in his position at an institution he has loved and revered since childhood, nonetheless seems very happy to return home to Seoul after 10 rewarding - but long - years. JHI congratulates him as well, and thanks him for his service. We hope His Excellency enjoys a well-earned retirement after a long, but safe, journey home.
Oct 21, 2016 2:54 PMIn April of 2016, Mr. Huf was honored to serve as Moderator of two different panel programs offered by the New York County Lawyers' Association (NYCLA). The first program was a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) course concerning the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA/ the Act), the second offered Ethics Credit and concerned Attorney "Branding" & conforming with the Rules of Professional Responsibility.The CLE panel on the FCPA discussed the increasingly broad and robust enforcement of the Act, and the implications for Corporations that do business internationally, as well as its responsible officers and the potential for individual liability/ culpability. The panelists not only discussed what to do in the event of an FCPA problem, but their thoughts on how to avoid such problems in the first place - now and in the future as the law evolves.
(Left to Right: Jason Huf; Jay G. Safer, Wollmuth, Maher & Deutsch; Glenn Jones, Law Offices of Glenn M. Jones; James McGovern, Hogan Lovells; Clara Flebus, Co-Chair, NYCLA Foreign & International Law Committee)The Branding panel provided an overview of marketing methods and the why and how of establishing a "Brand" - the "dos and the don'ts". (Mr. Huf notes that he still has to establish a Youtube page for his firm, JHI!) The panel also discussed how to plan and execute a marketing program that does not run afoul of the Rules of Professional Responsibility and agreed that, in addition to being every attorney's responsibility, being Ethical should, in fact, be a fundamental part of an attorney's Brand.The Rules of Professional Responsibility tend to follow changes in technology, and developing technologies are an important driver in the evolution of legal marketing programs. Accordingly, the panel also discussed trends and the direction the Rules of Ethics might possibly take, including recent recommendations by NYCLA, as rule-makers chase after these rapidly-developing technologies and the ethical implications of their use.
(Left to Right: Clara Flebus; Penn Dodson, AndersonDodson; Richard Brownell; James Q. Walker, Richards, Kibbe & Orbe, and Chairman of NYCLA's Committee on Professional Ethics; Stephen Perih, TransPerfect; Jason Huf)As Co-Chairman of NYCLA's Foreign & International Law Committee, Mr. Huf proudly notes that NYCLA constantly offers interesting, relevant and forward-looking CLE programs and other valuable forums for continued learning on a regular basis; and, states that consumers of such programs can look forward to the steady provision of additional thoughtful and cost-effective programs now and in the future. For more information on NYCLA's CLE offerings, please visit www.nycla.orgMr. Huf will, of course, continue to advise friends and colleagues of CLE programs and other speaking engagements wherein he is a participant in 2017 as the new year approaches.
Oct 12, 2016 2:38 PMBy R. Jason Huf
You know why you went to law school in the first place: You wanted to help people, change the world, "make a difference", be part of the solution... to whatever. Yeah, and you wanted to live a glorious, fabulous lifestyle at the top of the heap, respected by society and basking in financial comfort. What, no? Liar.When you finally graduated and passed the bar exam, your new professional qualification represented to you - at long last - the Keys to the Kingdom!
OK, so how's that workin' out for ya?
Now that I'm exactly one week into my latest attempt to quit smoking, and as the cold wind howls off the waters of the South Seaport and into the concrete canyons of Downtown Manhattan's Financial District, signaling the evaporation of yet another summer, I reasoned that penning my previously-promised piece on Work/ Life Balance would be timely.
(The cold wind cometh... )
You've devoted the first "better" half of your life to developing, well, a better life for you and yours.
Late nights at the office during the beginning of your career - part of the drill. No biggie.
More late nights managing junior fee earners once you become more seasoned - part of the drill, and "almost there". No biggie.
You're now a partner or solo practitioner and the near-constant focus is on client development; or a GC who is a company's responsible officer with a hand in everything from strategic decisions to managing the costs of outside counsel while demonstrating value for those costs; "sigh" - part of the drill, once the rain comes in steady, or I make it to the board of directors, its smooth sailing. No biggie.
Then... You've made it! Finally!! You're also 60 years old. Its over... Where did the time go and what was it for? It doesn't matter. Bye-bye. Oh yeah, and: No Biggie.
(No, my office doesn't look like this, either... )
Time is the one resource we can never obtain more of - only less. Every day. Whether we actually make good (or, any) use of it or not.
And, particularly with lawyers, once we become good at something in our field - whatever your practice areas - those things tend to become routine. Eventually, routine becomes routine. We go through the motions, the excitement of "changing the world" goes away, and its the same old same old that one cannot get away from for even the smallest amount of time, because we've got to do that billable work so we can pay those bills. Joy.
("Seriously, I went to law school for this?")
I worked for years to build my reputation as "Mr. Middle East". However, there are no more revolutionary Shari'ah-compliant financing products to help invent, no more reforms to educational systems in different parts of Arabia. Doing client work that, in some small way, may someday help to generate a broad-based, self-sustaining middle class in the Middle East is more or less over with. Moving forward, whatever happens there is pretty much already in the cards. All too often, I arrive home at 1:00am or so, pet my dog, and think of something along the lines of "Another fast food franchise on Hamdan Street... " or "Another oil refinery in the middle of some dusty nowhere... " followed by the usual "Yay. Who cares."
That's not good. A steady supply of "Bread and Butter" is nice to have, but when its all you have, things can get pretty damned dull. When we get to the point when our work day is up to 16 or even 20 hours a day some days, 5 or 6 days per week, and we no longer care about what we're doing, much less have a passion for it, then this invariably leads to the most dreaded word in the legal lexicon. The "B Word"...BURNOUT!!!
Like many in our profession, I've always been something of a minor league insomniac, so why not work late into the night, anyway? I've done some of my best thinking at 10:00pm. Of course, this means I won't be able to decompress to the point where I can sleep until 3:00am, and that's not good when you have to wake up at 6:00am.
Professional and personal dissatisfaction, as well as chronic exhaustion and "no life syndrome", are common among lawyers. And, there's no way out: you've already invested too much into your career, and your life (or, mere existence, such as it may be) is already half over anyway.
Not necessarily! The good news is, if you're good at your job, your success partially stems from your possession of excellent time management skills and your adept ability to prioritize tasks. Put those skills to work and carve out some free time - make "having a life" one of those tasks which you prioritize on a regular (well OK - semi-regular) basis.
(R&R - fit in in!)
We are in the business of being effective counselors who help our clients, be they individual or corporate clients. If you're not being good to yourself, its only a matter of time before you're not being as good as you could and should be for your clients.
I began this summer thinking it was time for "Mr. Middle East" to make full use of his time and status (OK, "Mr. Middle East" may not be lofty to the point of august, but it is kind of snazzy... ). And, then, I proceeded to more or less waste my entire summer. So, what's one summer? No biggie.... Wrong. Its a "biggie". Given my visceral dislike of winter, its effectively the waste of an entire year. Enjoying anything in the cold, wet, sharp, biting wind of the winter months takes considerable effort - and, anything that requires so much effort to "enjoy" is, definitionally, unenjoyable.
At my age, a year's worth of waste is waste I can ill-afford. I will never permit that to happen again - and, neither should you.
Necessary late nights will happen. That cannot be helped. But, working late for the mere sake of making "valuable" use of your waking hours misses the real value of time.
You - and your clients - can withstand you taking an evening, or even an entire day, off. Working from home once in a while isn't the end of the world, either. Trimming that commute time off of your schedule can make a heck of a difference, and technology makes working from home easier than ever.
In managing your time and prioritizing your tasks to make room for an actual "life", don't just take advantage of good weather as and when the seasons of the year allow, but make the most of the location where you are based: whether you've planted your flag in New York, Philadelphia, London, Jeddah, Abu Dhabi, Tampa, Florida or Ashville, North Carolina, you live in one of the great cities of the world - make the most of it. Its practically a sin if you don't!
In New York, where I chose to locate JHI's HQ, I am a subway ride from some of the most exciting entertainment on earth, and walking distance from several quick, pleasant distractions.
(The World-Famous ROCKETTES!!)
Whether its taking a few hours one evening to enjoy the spectacle of the world's greatest precision dance troupe at work, or a stroll through battery park after your afternoon nap, a brief refresher could actually increase the quality or your work while not severly limiting the amount of time available for work.
In addition to a bit of exercise, a proper diet doesn't hurt, either...
Taking an obscenely long lunch at a comfortable, but not too over-priced, local eatery may be just the ticket when looking for R&R opportunities that will make your thoughts sharper, more clear and faster but more thorough. You won't be able to send your client the bill, but perhaps you should given the subsequent improvement in your performance that results from taking a nice, relaxing breather...
("I wonder if they still serve those off-menu parmesean fries... ")
You can also combine business with pleasure. For example, in line with my loathing for winter, during the bitter months of January and/ or February, I am considering taking a tour of the Middle East and South Asia where the weather will be perfect at that time of year, to visit the Jeddah, KSA office as well as possible expansion points for JHI in the jurisdictions/ markets of the United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi & Dubai), Singapore and India.
Well, I gotta go - I've always wanted to date a Rockette and that's not going to happen by itself, nor will I be able to make it happen while sitting within the four walls of my office.
For now, remember: being good to others first requires that you be good to yourself. Although its easier said than done, "Don't Live to Work, Work to Live" - get back to living the life you intended to live when you started this journey. It comes down to good time management and shrewd prioritization. If you have run out of professional challenges, perhaps find one or two new challenges in your travels. And, there is one more thing that anyone can do, everyone should do more often, it doesn't cost you anything or require additional time, and if you do it more often, it can make a world of difference:
- Jason Huf
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
New York, NY
Sep 27, 2016 6:21 PMOn the evening of September 22, 2016, Mr. Huf attended an event featuring Ndaba Mandela, Chairman & Co-Founder of the "Africa Rising" Foundation, and grandson of late South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr. Mandela was in New York during the Convening of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly and spoke at the New York City Bar Association on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) vis-a-vis African states, particularly Goal # 16 (concerning Good Governance, Anti-Corruption and Rule of Law).
(Left to Right: Mr. Ndaba Mandela, Chairman & Co-Founder of the "Africa Rising" Foundation; and, Jason Huf)
Mr. Huf grew up in New Jersey, and has lived there for roughly half the sum total of his life thus far. He knows, first-hand, the economically and socially corrosive effects of political corruption, and the crippling effect a government that serves only to facilitate corruption can have on a state and the people who live in such a place.
That said, Mr. Huf limited himself to listening. After all, while lawyers may be at the bottom rung of the ladder among the governing class, lawyers are still part of the governing class. Mr. Huf thought it best to listen to - and learn from - someone who speaks for some of the people of the developing world who have been poorly served (and, often, downright exploited and oppressed) by those who govern their countries: "Far be it from me to tell him what he should want. He knows what he wants!", Mr. Huf later said of his interraction with Mr. Mandela.
More judges, better educational opportunities, and the like were offered up as being helpful tools in pursuit of SDG # 16. But, Mr. Mandela most strongly asserted that it was up to the people themselves, not judges appointed by corrupt dictators and oligarchs, to assert themselves and demand access to the clean water, medical treatment and other resources which are rightfully theirs.
He has a point - who would simply sit there watching their child die of a perfectly preventable disease and patiently wait for a UN team to swing by and, after some years, convince the multi-millionare colonel/ President of their otherwise poor country to suddenly have a change of heart and appoint honest judges and fly in doctors, food, agriculture & water treatment specialists instead of buying that third villa in Switzerland?
And, he makes that point with evident sincerity and passion, as one might expect given the heavy legacy he inherits from his iconic grandfather. The SDGs are ambitious and, if only because of that ambition, useful. But, absent people demanding responsibility for, and power over, their own futures, the progress that can be made toward the SDGs is likely somewhat limited.
Specifically, it does not seem possible to accomplish any of the SDGs without first making serious advances on SDG # 16, given the destructive and stifling effect bad governance and political corruption consistently have on factors necessary to achieve the other Sustainable Development Goals. Rule of Law is, quite simply, a must for any civilization to achieve real success, whether it be Sierra Leone, Nigeria, the Republic of South Africa, or New Jersey. And SDG # 16 is unlikely to be accomplished without the engagement of an affected population.
Mr. Huf expressed genuine pleasure over meeting Mr. Mandela and looks forward to similar opportunities as he tracks the progress of the SDGs at the UN as Representative (Observer) of a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), particularly as and when such may impact the "corporate responsibilities" of companies doing business internationally.
The evening with Mr. Mandela was organized by the New York City Bar Association's UN Committee, which invited the New York County Lawyers' Association's (NYCLA) Foreign & International Law Committee to co-sponsor the event. As Co-Chairman of NYCLA's Foreign & International Law Committee, Mr. Huf hopes the success of this event provides the basis for establishing a model of cooperation between committees of different bar associations on synergetic issues of importance to the legal community and society more broadly.