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JASON HUF INTERNATIONAL pc
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Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
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  • Meh, So What's an Entire Summer Wasted... No Biggie

    By 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!

    Lawyer Attorney Lifestyle


    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.

    Liberty Cold Wet Windy Winter Sucks   (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.

    My Office Doesn't Look Like This, Either   (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.


    Bread and Butter Work   ("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."


    Jason Huf Saudi ARabiaJason Huf Abu Dhabi Stock ExchangeJason Huf PortraitJason Huf & Women's Rights in Saudi ArabiaJason Huf & Women's Rights in Saudi ArabiaJason Huf & Saudi Vision 2030

    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"...

    Dan Fielding Burnout Lawyers Attorneys Lifestyle Work-Life Balance   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.


    Rest Recreation Time Management  (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.

    Lawyer Attorney Lifestyle Work Life Balance   (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...


    Lawyer Attorney Lifestyle Work Life Balance ("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:

    Lawyer Attorney Lifestyle Work Life Balance SMILE!        SMILE !!


    - Jason Huf
    Tuesday, October 11, 2016
    New York, NY
  • N. Mandela and How the "Soprano State" Doesn't Work in Africa, Either

    On 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).


    Ndaba Mandela, Africa Rising Foundation & R. Jason Huf, Huf International (JHI, pc)
    (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.
  • New Jersey Senate Passes International Arbitration Bill

    The New Jersey (NJ) Senate, by unanimous vote, has passed Senate Bill 602, the "New Jersey International Arbitration, Mediation and Conciliation Act", sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Thomas H. Kean, Jr.

    A step in the right direction, if this bill becomes law as presently written, it would empower public research universities in the state to establish centers for arbitration and mediation, with such centers providing their own procedural rules.

    Parties having a qualifying dispute would chose their own substantive law (with NJ law serving as the “gap filler”) and would be able opt into such a center’s procedural rules or any other set of procedural rules the parties agree to choose.

    A qualifying dispute would be one in which one or more of the parties is a non-US resident (individual or corporate) as defined by the bill, or when the property or other asset(s) in controversy are located outside of the United States, or when the underlying business relationship significantly concerns some foreign jurisdiction.  Domestic commercial disputes may also be arbitrated or mediated at such a center, provided the parties expressly agree to avail themselves of such a facility in the dispute resolution clause of the underlying contract.

    Parties who elect to have their dispute heard before a panel or tribunal housed by an arbitration center in NJ would have to fully fund a bond equal to the amount of their exposure in the controversy.  Additionally, the parties would be deemed to have voluntarily submitted themselves to the (in personam) jurisdiction of the courts of New Jersey upon the execution of their agreement to arbitrate in the state, but only to the extent required by the arbitration and enforcement its resulting decision.

    Having been passed by the NJ Senate, the bill now moves to the relevant committee of the NJ General Assembly.

    JHI will continue to track this legislation.
  • Observance of September 11 & Eid Al Adha Greetings

    This is one day of the year all of us set aside for remembering, but there is never a day when we forget.

    As with dates officially deemed "National Holidays", JHI's New York HQ Office - per annual Firm tradition - will be closed for business this Monday, September 12, in observance of the 15th anniversary of September 11, 2001.

    Just as JHI is proud to perform work that may make some small contribution to what, some day, may be the development of a broad, self-sustaining middle class in the Middle East, JHI is honored to be a witness to the resurgence of downtown Manhattan.  The Financial District's magnificent comeback is best symbolized by our neighboring Liberty Tower:


    Liberty Tower September 11 Never Forget Always Win Victory USA

    September 11 will be a day of remembrance and reflection for us all.  JHI will resume offering high-quality professional services on Tuesday, September 13.

    JHI also wishes our many friends in the Muslim world a happy Eid Al Adha holiday.  We would also like to advise clients and friends who do not observe this holiday to expect delays in certain services due to office closures - particularly banks and government offices - throughout the Middle East region during the holiday, which is scheduled to begin at sundown on Sunday, September 11.
  • Qatar's International Commercial Court

    As Co-Chairman of the New York County Lawyers' Association's (NYCLA) Foreign & International Law Committee, Mr. Huf enjoys the occassional pleasure of hosting some rather interesting guests.

    Just this past March, the Foreign & International Law Committee welcomed the Honorable Gerald Lebovits, Justice of the New York Supreme Court in Manhattan and Adjunct Professor of Law at Columbia, Fordham and NYU.  Justice Lebovits provided a presentation covering the Qatar International Court and the time he spent in Doha teaching local attorneys there.

    JHI has briefly covered Qatar's Bifurcated Legal System in an earlier piece and we refer you to it for some of the bare bones basics.

    Justice Lebovits, in addition to describing his teaching experience in Doha, discussed the history of Qatar's International Court (the Court) for hearing commercial disputes, the caliber of its personnel, its procedures and costs.  He also discussed some of the decisions already rendered by the Court, where he participated as one of its distinguished Judges.

    Clara Flebus, Gerald Lebovits, Jason Huf
    (Left to right: Clara Flebus, Co-Chair, NYCLA Foreign & International Law Committee; Hon. Justice Gerald Lebovits; and, Jason Huf)

    Justice Lebovits pointed out, at length, what he viewed to be the efficiency of the Court relative to Arbitration facilities elsewhere in the Gulf region. The speed, cost and fairness of the proceedings made the Court, from his perspective, an ideal solution for Dispute Resolution and wondered aloud why parties did not avail themselves of the use of the Court more often in the dispute resolution clauses of their agreements.

    Mr. Huf agrees that, on paper and based on performance thus far, the Court is an attractive facility. However, the Court was founded relatively recently (2009), and as an active international practitioner who focuses on the region, Mr. Huf made the point that attorneys might be more receptive to the idea of recommending the use of the Court to their clients after more data is at hand (that is to say, after the Court has adjudicated more disputes). Of course, with attorneys perhaps hesitating to suggest that their client be something of a new legal system's "guinea pig", it may take some time before such additional data is generated.

    That said, you would be hard-pressed to find a lawyer in New York City who is as knowledgeable of the inner workings of the Court and the procedures it employs than Justice Lebovits.  His entire presentation – including his positive view of the Court's cost and time-effectiveness – was well-informed and compelling.

    JHI invites you to research the Qatar International Commercial Court and Dispute Resolution Centre and draw your own conclusions:

    www.qicdrc.com.qa


    After all, as very good lawyers, aren't we always in search of the next "better idea"?

  • WARNING: Quitting Smoking Can Be Hazardous To the Health of Your Career

    By R. Jason Huf
     
    You’re in control.  You’re paid to be in control.  Its not just professional reputation and “image”, its part of who you are (otherwise, that “image” would never fly and your professional reputation would be quite different).
     
    Now, you’re no longer at an age when you’re indestructible.  You’re in, say, your early 30s, you’ve started a family, and you have other concerns ranging from personal health to time management that supersede the importance of getting in that occasional puff, right?
     
    Time to quit smoking.
     
    Congratulations!  You are now on the road to better health.  Air will smell sweeter, food will taste better.  You’ll not have to blow 20+ minutes every two hours riding elevators just to go out into the cold wind and suck one down.  You’ll be here on earth longer for your loved ones.  And, you’ve just said “Good-Bye” to being in control…
     
    "I guess I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue... "

    Those of you who are not smokers are going to write this off as fiction.  After all, enjoying tobacco is no where near the same league as being a heroin addict, a coke head, or some kind of angry alcoholic who drinks whiskey for breakfast.  On several levels, that’s true.  In any event, the following doesn’t so much apply to you, so feel free to skip it.  Now, for my fellow smokers…
     
    As someone who recently suspended his second serious attempt at quitting smoking, I’m confident that I speak with at least some minor amount of authority on this.  My first attempt, years ago, ended with friends handing me cigarettes, calling me a pain in the derriere and more or less telling me to have a smoke and shut up.  I like being “Mr. Nice Guy”.  Knowing I was being something of a monster, I took their advice.
     
    Years later, I am in my 40s, I have my own firm, I am unmarried, clients tend to trust me – I just about answer to no one.  I am in as much command of all I survey, and my remaining future, as I am ever likely to be.  This time it won’t be quite so bad, right?   WRONG.
     
    It was even worse.  Let’s face it, you are dealing with a highly addictive substance (both bio-chemically and psychologically), the use of which is deeply ingrained into your routine.  While individual smokers are each going to react to nicotine withdrawal somewhat differently, talking with other smokers it seems not uncommon that (as happened in my case) every bit of good judgment you’ve ever had will go out the window, and you will say and do things that exemplify the exact opposite of your instincts.  Its like being George Costanza – on crack.
     
    Twiiiiiix!!
     
    “Water off a duck’s back” is part of my very nature.  I lived and worked in, according to many people, the first or second most stressful place on planet earth (no, not New Jersey – the Middle East) for years, and I had a great time.
     
    I find what I call “unnecessary drama” to be entirely repellant.  I never understood it, it serves no useful purpose and it’s a complete turn-off.  For me, it is instantly revolting.  And yet, just a few days after quitting smoking, I was the King of Unnecessary Dramas.  Putting something into a microwave oven, setting it for two minutes, and then becoming visibly and verbally agitated because two minutes is actually taking two minutes makes no sense.  Having the irrepressible, manic need to make sure someone – anyone – knows about your overwhelming sense of frustration, however, is worse than irrational.  It is thoroughly obnoxious.
     
    If you’ve already lived this nightmare and don’t wish to relive it, avert your eyes, (if you haven’t already).  If not, then picture if you will...
     
    Imagine if you will...     a bizarre realm...
     
    You will lash out over the silliest things.  Every matter great or small, real or perceived, will take on an urgency that one normally associates with a burning building.  You will know that this lashing-out is a mistake, do it anyway and then feel embarrassed to the point of being disturbed by your own behavior almost immediately afterward.  And then, just five minutes later, you’ll be doing it all over again.  Everyone in your orbit will suffer, including you.

    Lock me up, baby!
     
    What this kind of bizarre behavior can do to your image, professional reputation and your career is obvious.  And, to make matters worse, as lawyers, these brains of ours are what we work with – it’s the most important tool in the shed.  So, naturally, trying to bury yourself in your work as the storm passes seems a rather dangerous solution.

    And, what about the ethical implications of insisting on continuing your work??
     
    That said, you still have to get stuff done.  You can’t isolate yourself.  Moving into a cabin without access to electricity in northern Canada for two weeks and wrestling polar bears (or, whatever folks up there do for exercise) isn’t an option.  And, for those of you who remember the old TV show “Get Smart”, I’m sorry to break this to you, but the “Cone of Silence” doesn’t actually work…

    Can't Isolate Yourself

    You can’t just quit quitting – that would be quitting!  Another loss of control.  The cherry on top of a monumental, multi-layered failure.  If we were OK with failure, we wouldn’t be lawyers.
     
    You had such high hopes and great confidence when you first decided to quit smoking.  Now, you are in this terrible Catch-22.  If you continue to ride this out, how much (more) damage are you likely to cause?  But, you cannot allow the misery of the previous eternal week or two to have been in vain, and you simply cannot cave in and fail.
     
    Yes you can.  Hanging your head in shame, you rush off to the store one evening, buy a pack of cigarettes, and before the night is out you have incinerated and inhaled half the contents of that pack.  The next morning, you are back to smoking just as much as you used to smoke, and you are a Human Being again…  A deeply ashamed one, and certainly a total failure.  But, at least you’re a member of the species once more.

    And, you can always say that you had to smoke again in order to be compliant with the Rules of Professional Responsibility.  No one will have anything to say once you hang your hat on that!
     
    Yes, I failed at this.  Again…
     
    Well, its not failure if its a learning experience.  I am not writing this to dissuade you, my friends and colleagues, from quitting smoking.  I am providing a heads-up.  We don’t discuss this very often specifically because it is embarrassing, and it makes us sound weak.
     
    Based on what I’ve learned thus far, here are some (I hope) helpful tips on how to beat smoking without beating your career into a pulp and seeing many years of hard work and cool, reliable performance go down the drain:
     
    1.  See a doctor before quitting.  This little blog article is not comprehensive medical advice and I do not know the state of your health – withdrawal symptoms may vary from person-to-person, and you should seek qualified medical advice before making any serious health decisions.  This isn’t just the ordinary disclaimer from one attorney writing to other attorneys (although, that’s in there, too).  Visiting a doctor after you’ve started the process of quitting tobacco in the hopes of obtaining something that will help to mitigate the withdrawal symptoms is OK, but its better to see one before you start.  Know as much about the current state of your health as you can prior to throwing yourself into the thresher.
     
    I will write more broadly about Work/ Life Balance in a subsequent piece.  But, for now, if you are under the kind of exhaustion and tension commonly plaguing attorneys – if you are suffering from, say, extreme sleep deprivation, nervous exhaustion, dehydration, a wildly irregular heartbeat or are just plain constantly tired, then address that first.  If you are taking in as much as three pots of strong coffee per day to make up for a consistent lack of sleep, then this may not be the best time for you to try quitting smoking.
     
    The bottom line is this:  while it may sound counterintuitive, be in your best possible shape before you begin the process of quitting smoking.
     
    2.  On the subject of finding something that actually helps with mitigating withdrawal symptoms, well, “Cold Turkey” ain’t for everybody.  It wasn’t for me.  That said, be mindful of the side effects of such aids (from appetite suppression to much worse).  The most harmless thing seemed the gum, but I found it to be disgusting.  More than one person suggested “Vaping”.  While I have seen may use it as a substitute, and with some success, I have yet to meet anyone who has since managed to give up the Vaping.  I wouldn’t look to swap one harmful vice for another, myself – even if the substitute is somewhat less harmful.
     
    Again, see a doctor and sort out exactly which aid(s) works best for you.
     
    3.  If you do decide to go Cold Turkey, but reduce your daily intake of cigarettes before the appointed time of quitting in the hopes that the symptoms of quitting nicotine will not be so severe, then you may wish to give yourself more than a few days to deescalate.  Trust me on this one.
     
    4.  Finally, and as discussed, you cannot isolate yourself from civilization.  But, you can do two things:  a. let others know you are quitting; and, b. establish “buffers”.
     
    Telling people you are quitting smoking is not setting yourself up for additional embarrassment in the event you fail (and, never be one of those who “Plan to Fail”).  In fact, it may help them to understand your embarrassing behavior while you undergo withdrawal.  At the very least, it will let them know to keep their distance, even if you personally lose sight of the importance of distance during this period.
     
    Buffers can help to maintain that distance, even as you manically attempt to lash out and inflict your new, alien frustrations on the entire human race.  Work from home, if you can (and, technology makes it easier than ever).  Limit your face-to-face appointments to the extent you can.  Get someone else at the firm to do you a solid and appear at the court to file those motions for you during a particularly rough morning.  Lock your phone in a desk drawer, check it at specific times.  For emails and voice messages, put a minimum buffer time on your response, if one is required (and, during that time, consider what is actually required – do not say anything that is not required).  While some of your work is bound to be time-sensitive and good response times are a must in our business, nothing is so super urgent that it can’t wait for a few minutes.  A measured response is always better than a weird one and, let’s face it, your client isn’t on Death Row waiting for that last-minute call from the Governor that’s never going to come anyway.
     
    I hope that helps.
     
    In any event, now that I am smoking again and back to being my rock-solid, famously "Steady" self, I would like to apologize to all those I may have offended these past couple of weeks; and, apologize in advance to all those I may offend in the near future.  Because, after I address a few health concerns stemming from that lack of Work/ Life Balance I referenced earlier, I am returning to quitting smoking.
     
    As I said, this latest attempt is merely suspended.
     
    For now, I’m going to go home, put up my feet, and light one up.  I hope you enjoy your weekend as well.
     
     – Jason Huf
    Thursday, August 25, 2016
    New York, NY
  • Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 & "Riyadh Day" at the UN

    You are about to see a rapid-fire (for this space, anyway) succession of as yet unpublished updates covering a period from Spring 2016 to present.  We will start with an initial discussion of Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030”, touted as the most sweeping series of reforms in the Kingdom’s history.
     
    In a nutshell, Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 is a collection of planned economic and social reforms designed to construct a “Post-Oil” Saudi Arabia, in line with globally-held concepts of Sustainable Development. King Salman has invested his son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with broad, sweeping powers to enable him, his advisors and other subordinates to design and execute these reforms between now and the target date of 2030.
     
    Within the stated goals of weaning the Kingdom (KSA) off of being an Oil-based economy and becoming an industrialized state, with greater Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), full employment for working-aged males, improved access to high-quality education, greater rights for women and a more liberal social structure generally, two items are immediately obvious:  we are seeing Riyadh’s intent to finalize the end the era wherein OPEC, the powerful cartel of oil-producing states, has been the world’s definitive maker of oil policy; and, a rapid and intense military build-up intended to strengthen a block of states that includes the KSA, Egypt and the smaller Gulf States determined to withstand growing Iranian and Russian influence in the Gulf region following continued declining US influence and interest there and in the greater Middle East.
     
    While JHI is not a policy think tank, we feel it is important to know the backdrop and overall purpose of any upcoming reforms.
     
    Our principle concern is FDI, and the impact any reforms may have on the attractiveness of FDI in the KSA. This program is still young, so specific laws and regulations impacting FDI are not yet in effect. For the time being, there is nothing set in concrete that a law firm can dissect for the benefit of its clients.
     
    Therefore, in our typical less-than-modest fashion, JHI offers some suggestions on how to make FDI in the KSA more attractive to potential investors:
     
    1.  The Corporate Income Tax should continue to be (gradually) lowered, and personal income tax should remain zero.  Although declining oil revenues and their impact on the national government’s budget needs to be addressed, increasing the number of companies investing in the KSA, rather than increasing the tax existing companies pay, seems the best way to address the current budget shortfalls giving rise to the KSA’s national debt.
     
    2.  Saudization is seen, by and large, as a form of tax by potential foreign investors. The best way to address the employment crisis in the KSA is not by compelling investors to hire Saudi nationals, but by making the hiring of them more attractive.  Foreign investors ordinarily love to avail themselves of a local workforce – after all, importing staff and finding housing for them is pretty darned expensive!  Many such imported workers do not know the language or withstand the culture shock very well.  Unfortunately, fairly or unfairly, the idea of hiring Saudis is generally considered unattractive, thus the current Saudization requirements.  Rather than increase these requirements, education should be improved and made more accessible, and a sense of work ethic (rather than entitlement) needs to be instilled in the Kingdom’s youth.  And, the world needs to actually KNOW of the existence of such an educated, hard-working labor pool – numbering in the millions, and proud of real accomplishment at the workplace.  Do this, and Saudization will no longer be necessary at all.
     
    3.  Make the process of obtaining a business license less burdensome and more efficient.  Telling clients that it could take a minimum of six (6) months to obtain the necessary documentation before proceeding with business activity tends to be something of a turn-off for them.  Additional agencies designed to steer and otherwise regulate foreign investment eases nothing and are simply additional "layers” of bureaucracy.  Streamlining, rather than adding to, the process of licensing incoming businesses would be a productive step.
     
    4.  Women’s rights, and human rights generally, should be broadened – and, can be without offending the Kingdom’s religious sensibilities or its historical traditions.  It is much easier, on multiple levels, for a company to invest in a country whose culture is not the focus of controversial discussions centered around notions of equality and individual human dignity.  Additionally, it is essential that people throughout the Kingdom feel some sense of “ownership” in their country and their respective futures (see, 2. above).  They need to feel that their rights are being protected by their government, not denied.  This isn’t a call for the overnight imposition of Jeffersonian democracy.  Quite the contrary:  JHI asserts that the keys to unlocking a more liberal social structure (without rocking the stability of the KSA) lay within the old tribal and other cultural traditions of the modern Kingdom.
     
    5.  The labor market, and the regulation of such, should be loosened, and greater rights should be provided to foreign “unskilled” laborers and household staff.  As above (see, 4.), this is a matter of conscious for many potential investors, as well as foreign professional staff who visit the KSA.
     
    6.  Banking reform is a must.  The KSA is one of the most – if not the most – “underbanked” markets on the face of the earth.  While new banks and fresh capital and competition need to be allowed in, stronger regulation and monitoring needs to be in place, giving rise to stronger internal compliance programs.  While banking needs to be more readily available in the KSA, companies and governments around the world also need to have more confidence in the country’s banks.
     
    7.  For local and foreign companies alike, receivables can be something of a headache in the KSA.  Its no secret that debt, and the collection of debt, can be problematic there.  As the Kingdom undertakes judicial reform, it should continue to consider the importance of the confidence a company can have in the investment it makes in Saudi Arabia.
     
    8.  One of the most crucial assets in play when investing in any country is a company’s intellectual property. Intellectual property protections and anti-piracy measures need to be greatly strengthened, and quickly.  It is important for any company (say, you sell shampoo and find yourself competing with a counterfeit knock-off of your product – that’s not good), but when looking to attract high-tech industries, especially, it is absolutely fundamental that such companies have confidence that intellectual property worth hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, of US dollars will not be stolen from them and effectively rendered next to worthless overnight.
     
    These are eight basic principle points upon which JHI would like to see the building of any reform package affecting FDI in the KSA.
     
    JHI will track any concrete steps within this subject, and Mr. Huf hopes to learn more when “Riyadh Day” (its actually a week of symposiums, workshops and other such meetings), sponsored by the KSA’s High Commission for the Development of Riyadh, is held at the United Nations in New York at the end of September.
  • Eid al-Fitr, July 4 & Medina

    JHI 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, despite the challenges to peace and security during the Holy Month this year.  We would also like to advise clients and friends who do not observe this holiday to expect office closures throughout the Middle East region during the holiday.

    In the United States, we celebrated the 240th anniversary of our Independence on July 4.  These past several weeks have seen barbarity at its worst. With specific reference to the terrorist attack at Medina, we in the Land of Liberty, irrespective of faith, stand with and pray for the innocent victims of that atrocity.  Everyone has a right to freedom from terror.

    While the savage primitives of ISIS/IL are strongly suspected of coordinating the attack in Medina and other places throughout Saudi Arabia, no group as of the date of this writing has claimed responsibility and
    the motives of the suicide bomber in Medina are as yet unknown.  It was nonetheless a murderous act of barbarity that the whole of the civilized world must reject.  ANY "cause" served by the use of Terror as a tactic must, summarily, be deemed illegitimate.

    Further, when terrorism is employed, the actors betray their so-called "cause" to be nothing more than a pretext for a war of conquest.  This is the reality civilized people across the globe must face with the determination that any such enemy will be defeated and placed in history's rubbish pile, along with so many other would-be tyrants of the past.

    JHI will continue its expansion in the region and hopes that, even as they mourn those lost this past week, the good people of Medina, Jeddah and elsewhere in the Kingdom celebrate God-given life and its highest pursuits.

    Liberty,Medina,KSA,JHI,Huf,Law,LawFirm,Holiday,Eid,Muslim,Islam,Terror,Commercial,Corporate,Banking,Arbitration,Terrorism,Independence,Legal,Saudi,Arabia,Jeddah,GCC,Gulf,Emirates,UAE,AbuDhabi,Dubai,Freedom,Ramadan

  • Ramadan Mubarak

    To all of our friends around the world who observe the Holy Month, we at JHI hope that you and your families enjoy a meaningful period of dedication to fasting, reflection and prayer during these historically challenging times.  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!

    Sunset, Abu Dhabi, Corniche, Ramadan, Holy Month
  • April Showers Bring May Flowers

    By R. Jason Huf

    Its been quite some time since JHI's last Note or Comment, but that doesn't mean that there hasn't been anything to write about.  And, its certainly too much to write about all at once.

    With Ramadan just around the corner, should the usual business cycle associated with the Holy Month and High Summer come about, I will make maximum use of the time and write more often:


    April was a pretty busy month, inside the office and out.  Saudi Arabia's "Vision 2030" was unveiled by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on April 25.  JHI will provide analysis of the KSA's plan for a "post-Oil" economy, and any changes to the laws of the Kingdom resulting therefrom.  We will also continue to track legal developments elsewhere in the Gulf region.

    Also, as UN Representative for an NGO, I enjoyed the opportunity of hearing United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speak about the UN's Sustainable Development Treaty, the Sustainable Development Goals, and what the private sector (including the Legal Community) can do to help achieve those goals.  This was followed by attending several open forums at the UN, and hosting a talk on 'Conflict Minerals' with an expert on the subject.

    I also moderated two very successful Continuing Legal Education panels, one on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the other an Ethics course on Attorney "Branding" for international practitioners.

    Almost forgot! In March, I had the pleasure of hosting a New York State judge who discussed the Qatari Commercial Courts after returning from his experience teaching new, young Qatari lawyers in Doha.

    More recently, after months of deliberations and conversations with colleagues and others I respect, I have come to a decision on JHI's future in the Middle East - and, beyond.

    [ for some of the backstory, click here ---> 
    JHI - The Law Firm of Jason Huf International   ].


    Further details concerning our expansion of capabilities and services, as well as the other topics outlined above, will be distributed in due course.

    In the meantime, Happy Memorial Day -- enjoy the start of summer!



     - Jason Huf
    Wednesday, May 25, 2016
    New York, NY