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.
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, with 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 govering 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 civilzation 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.
Sep 16, 2016 1:07 PMThe 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.
Sep 9, 2016 11:44 AMThis 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:
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.
Aug 30, 2016 3:16 PM
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.
(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:
After all, as very good lawyers, aren't we always in search of the next "better idea"?
Aug 26, 2016 4:19 PMBy R. Jason HufYou’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…
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.“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...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.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…
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 HufThursday, August 25, 2016New York, NY
Jul 5, 2016 2:41 PMJHI 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.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.
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.
May 25, 2016 1:50 PM
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 ---> ].
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
Mar 1, 2016 5:43 PMBy R. Jason Huf
It is with great pleasure, and not without some sense of humility, that I announce my appointment as Representative (Observer) to the United Nations (UN) by the New York County Lawyers' Association (NYCLA), a Non-Governmental Organization recognized by the UN.Observers have access to certain sessions and other events covering a wide range of topics, and I hope to put this exposure to the best possible use of NYCLA and the legal community as a whole. Naturally, my own focus will be on the Middle East and topics important to those involved in the region, from Womens' Rights (and, Human Rights generally) to Banking, Energy, International Corporate Governmence and Trade.
Of course, I am not a "One Man Army" -- I am working
with a terrific team of dedicated professionals, and I
expect great results as we report back to our
colleagues on issues of importance to international
legal practitioners and other concerned classes of
This is an opportunity - and, an honor - that I am
committed to making the most of as our civilization
marches ahead into an age of rapidly-changing times that
may require some thought be put into changing legal
constructs.And, hey, you can't beat Fun...- Jason Huf
It goes without saying that I will provide a report or two via this space as well. Thank you for your continued interest.
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
New York, NY
Sep 22, 2015 1:14 PMDue to some of the logistical challenges associated with measures necessary to maintain security, regulate traffic and otherwise provide for the reasonably successful execution of Pope Francis' visit to New York City, the New York HQ Office of the Law Firm of Jason Huf International in downtown Manhattan will be closed on Thursday, September 24 & Friday, September 25.
The Jeddah office will be closed on Thursday for Eid Al Adha, and the weekend in Saudi Arabia consists of Friday and Saturday. However, Mr. Huf will be available via e-mail in he event his attention is needed.
Our office in the living heart of NYC's Financial District shall resume operations as normal (along with the rest of New York) on Monday, September 28. In the meantime, everyone at JHI sincerely hopes that Roman Catholics throughout the greater New York City area safely enjoy this rare and, we trust, meaningful visit by their Supreme Pontiff.
Sep 16, 2015 2:24 PMDuring King Salman's recent visit to Washington, DC, members of the Saudi delegation issued several announcements concerning planned commercial reforms and other developments that could prove significant to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Saudi Arabia (KSA) as the Kingdom looks to broaden its economy at a time when low oil prices are projected to be the norm for the medium term. We will highlight some of the more significant announcements in this and subsequent notes.
While Saudi Arabia remains committed to continuing its current record-setting output of light sweet crude (one of the major factors contributing to low oil prices), the KSA is now facing projections of massive budget deficits and rapidly depleting cash reserves. Increased FDI, particularly from the United States, appears to be critical to the KSA's strategy for coping with the downsides of consistently low oil prices.
Reforms in the Arab world often begin with teasers that function as "trial balloons". This note will reference such a trial balloon floated by a Saudi official associated with the Deputy Crown Prince. In a closed door meeting with business leaders in DC, this official announced that the Kingdom is considering opening the Saudi banking market to permit entry of additional foreign banks - especially American ones - wishing to do business in the Kingdom. In additional to financing major projects, it is hoped that such banks would also cater to small businesses and individual depositors.
Even with the recent entry of a branch of a bank based in fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Member State Qatar, Saudi Arabia is still seen as, perhaps, the most "under-banked" market in the world. To attract additional FDI, which has been in slight decline in recent years, some see the entry of additional Foreign banks and the capital they bring as critical. Entry by foreign banks based elsewhere in the GCC has been helpful, but it will take the power of additional American and other western banks to take a more broad-based growth to the next level.
Not stated, but understood, in this announcement is Saudi Arabia's desire that western powers continue to see that they have a stake in the stability of the Kindgom vis-a-vis its continuing conflict with Iran and, increasingly, Russia.
Of course, the devil is in the details: What will be required to gain entry? And, once in the market, how secure is a bank's investment in the Kingom and how will such a bank be regulated and taxed? How might such a venture impact an investing bank's legal and regulatory position at home?
JHI will continue to track the flight path of this trial balloon and let you know where it lands...
Jul 17, 2015 1:11 PMJHI 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 during the holiday.
Jul 10, 2015 2:09 PMBy R. Jason Huf
When the Saudi government decided to ramp up the production of light, sweet crude oil and crash the price of it world-wide, the first thing most people in the United States (quite rightly) noticed was the sharp decline in the price of gasoline. It’s the best break working people in America have enjoyed in a long time, and has generated economic growth that no artificial government “stimulus” program can ever hope to match.
Middle East practitioners like myself, on the other hand, immediately understood two things: 1. the increase in production was designed to dampen the profitability of energy projects, particularly by oil & gas producers in the United States – which, in turn, helps to continue to make the maintenance of stability in Saudi Arabia a priority for Western countries and their oil-dependent economies; and, 2. it was a direct attack against the cohesiveness of the Kingdom’s arch-enemy, Iran, and some of its anti-Western allies such as Venezuela and, particularly, Russia (all three countries having economic models with price floors for oil that are unsustainable in the current environment).
Iran's desperate economic situation notwithstanding, they have lashed out and struck back on a variety of levels and are emboldened by recent victories in Yemen, Iraq and Vienna. Iran is increasingly aggressive in the region, and Saudi Arabia is feeling ever distant from the United States. As to the fear of a regional arms race stemming from the unabated existence of the Iranian nuclear arms program, such an arms race is already underway.
Keenly aware that the balance of power in the Middle East continues to swing in favor of Iran and that the United States is decreasingly interested in serving as the region's chief guarantor of security in the region, the Arab states may feel that they are in a desperate situation themselves. Let us not forget, that the despicable and barbaric terrorist organization ISIS/ ISIL was originally cobbled together with the support of Turkey and Qatar to serve as a hyper-radicalized Sunni buffer against encroaching Shia (Iranian) power. The Saudi move to create an oil supply glut and the joint Saudi/ Egyptian military operations against Iranian clients in Yemen seem, thus far, insufficient to halt Iranian momentum.
If the present trend continues, a direct region-wide conflict between Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, et al vs. Iran and Syria seems more likely, not less.
We live in an era when asymmetrical warefare that utilizes non-uniformed combatants targeting civilians to engender fear and instability so as to achieve a political or otherwise socially relevant end (e.g., "terrorism") has become a regular feature, turning cities well behind the lines of a given conflict into battlefields themselves. What do you do when you are a business that has invested in a region wherein the situation has become so uncertain?
Well, that depends on the industry you are in, how much risk you (and your insurance providers) are willing to absorb, and what kind of talent you think you can attract to work in such an environment.
As for myself, I remain committed to my relationship with Jeddah. The Jeddah office consists of local personnel, I have spent years developing my practice, and I have never been one to simply throw away the fruits of my own hard work. At present, my inclination is to stay the course.
In fact, having considered this contingency for some time, I am currently leaning toward expansion, rather than withdrawal. I feel it may soon become time to further live up to my firm's catch phrase - and, follow my natural instincts - and explore.
Whereas some firms may be examining their options on executing an exit strategy, I am exploring the possibility of expanding into new jurisdictions and expanding the range of assistance I can provide to Western companies that remain in the region.
As an attorney, your practice is client-driven. Some companies will stay, some will leave and new businesses will enter one or more Gulf Cooperation Council markets. There will continue to be a need for Western legal expertise working hand-in-hand with local practitioners throughout the region.
Perhaps more fundamentally, I am proud of the work I have done over the years. From assisting with Shari-ah-compliant finance to education reform, I have been a small piece of a small piece in the jigsaw puzzle of helping to foster an environment wherein one may someday see a broad-based, self-sustaining middle class in the Middle East.
This sense of accomplishment will be foremost on my mind as I look toward Exploring the Boundaries of My Own Business...
– Jason Huf
Friday, July 10, 2015
New York, NY
Apr 17, 2015 2:22 PMby R. Jason Huf
It has been a while! I haven't had much time for extraneous writing this year. However, there's nothing extraneous about this:
As Co-Chairman of New York County Lawyers' Association's (NYCLA) Foreign & International Law Committee, I was able to make time to accept New York Law School's (NYLS) gracious invitation to help organize and participate in a distinguished panel of international legal practitioners. A couple of weeks ago, we enjoyed sharing our experiences with some of NYLS's bright, internationally-minded students at their International Law Center in downtown Manhattan.
(Left to right: Professor Lloyd Bonfield, Director NYLS Center for International Law; Giulia Previti, Associate, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP [New York]; Patrick Turner, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, CBS Broadcasting; Jason Huf; Aurelie Bertoldo, JD Candidate - NYLS Class of 2016 & Honoroary Student Co-Chair, NYCLA Foreign & International Law Committee)
The panel on Careers in International Law was moderated by Professor Lloyd Bonfield and included Ms. Giulia Previti from the New York office of the globally renowned law firm Freshfield's; and, Mr. Patrick Turner, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel with the Law Depatment of CBS - and proud NYLS Alumnus.
I provided some career advice and shared some of my experiences as a legal professional working in the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia. However, the real "stars" of the panel were Ms. Previti and Mr. Turner - the insights they imparted to the students were pointed and profound.
For me, just as compelling as my fellow panelists (and, they had some terrific stories to share) were the students in attendance and NYLS itself. The Center for International Law, especially its Assistant Director, Mr. Michael Rhee, pulled out all the stops and extended every courtesy in hosting this event, displaying terrific organizational capabilities. And, as has been typical of past experience during my time in our profession, the current JD Candidates at NYLS in attendance impressed me as serious, but down to earth, hard-working professional scholars brimming with ambition and curiosity. I thoroughly enjoyed speaking with them, fielding their questions and otherwise interracting with them. I have no doubt that the future of the legal profession, particularly the future of US-based international legal practice, is in good hands at the NYLS Center for International Law.
Moments like my participation in this panel are among the most gratifying of my career. It never fails to renew my enthusiasm about being a member of the legal profession.
And, I would like to thank the Honorary Student Co-Chairs of NYCLA's Foreign & International Law Committee, Ms. Shabnam Hajain and Ms. Aurelie Bertoldo, both NYLS JD Candidates in the Class of 2016, for doing so much of the leg work to make this happen. In fact, if memory serves, the whole thing started as Ms. Bertoldo's idea (not surprising, as she is a student at a first-rate law school). My Committee Co-Chair, Clara Flebus, and I couldn't be more pleased with their intellect, committment and work ethic.
I only hope that they, and their internationally-minded colleagues studying law at NYLS, found our discussion at be least half as valuable as I found it enjoyable.
- Jason Huf
Friday, April 16, 2015
New York, NY
Nov 25, 2014 5:53 PMArbitration clauses are often heavily negotiated and complex enough to be referred to as “a contract within the contract”. The reasons for this are obvious (even to us transactional practitioners). The exact terms of a dispute resolution clause can have far-reaching consequences.One of the goals in crafting such a clause is to mitigate the irreconcilability of disputes as they arise by putting your client in the best possible position in the event of a scenario that triggers termination and subsequent arbitration. Naturally, both sides have this in mind during negotiations. But, what happens in jurisdictions where the enforceability of arbitration clauses may be considered by some, fairly or unfairly, to be a somewhat unsettled question?Until recently, while the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (or, KSA) has been a member to the New York Convention (on the enforcement of arbitral awards), this did not always lead one to predict with certainty that a Saudi court would recognize the validity of the arbitration clause in your agreement with a local party and direct that party to resort to arbitration, as per your agreement. In the past, senior judicial officials and other legal professionals in Saudi Arabia have on occasion issued public pronouncements that arbitration clauses are contrary to Shari’ah and are therefore invalid, and should not be enforced by Saudi courts.That is to say, in Saudi Arabia you may have had the right to enforce an arbitral award granted by a tribunal (keeping in mind the difficulty some may experience in attempting actual collection in the Kingdom), but such public pronouncements may have lead some to wonder if you could successfully assert that the underlying dispute be entered into arbitration in the first place (in the KSA), depending on whether or not the judge in the Saudi court deciding the question deemed your particular arbitration clause (or, arbitration clauses generally) to be appropriate under, or contrary to, Shari'ah.
Today, some are hopeful that the passage of the KSA's new Arbitration Law of 2012 (based on the UNCITRAL Model Arbitration Law) to supplant the KSA Arbitration Law of 1983, and the creation of judicial training centers and the subsequent appointment of judges to serve in a new commercial court system in the KSA, will lead to greater clarity on the subject of the enforcement of arbitration clauses. As with any legal reform, time will tell.In the neighboring United Arab Emirates (UAE), the considerations differ. The validity of the arbitration clause, the formation of the contact, and the nature of the relationship between the parties themselves are just a few of the considerations that a court could measure in weighing the enforceability of a given arbitration clause.
Any Emirati national (individual or corporate) has the right to avail itself of the protection and justice of the courts of the UAE. In the past, this may have prompted some local parties in the UAE to move that a local court should assert jurisdiction, despite the existence of an arbitration clause. It should be said, however, that in the UAE (a commercial hub in the Gulf region that has become famous for the "City of Dreams", Dubai, and increasingly the "Green Emirate" of Abu Dhabi), such motions should rely on more than this basic right if a party wishes to succeed in its attempt to escape arbitration under a valid clause.
Following certain provisions of the UAE (federal) Civil Code, judges in local courts should hold that validly written arbitration clauses are enforceable, except when there exist particular circumstances. For example, in disputes arising from registered commercial agency agreements a judge may deem an otherwise valid arbitration clause unenforceable and declare it void on the grounds that clauses calling for alternative dispute resolution (or, ADR) in such contracts are contrary to, or inconsistent with, "Public Policy". (Please note: the commonly used, colloquial term "sponsorship agreement" is much broader and could refer to several different types of business relationships in the UAE; whereas, "registered commercial agency agreements" refers to a specific type of business relationship, which must also be properly registered with the relevant government office in accordance with both the law and the terms stipulated in the agreement itself.)So, what do you do when doing business internationally, and some of your relationships are with parties in the Middle East?Negotiate an arbitration clause.
And, retain an experienced attorney with local knowledge (preferably one with a presence in the specific jurisdiction in question: the laws of Middle Eastern jurisdictions, like the laws of countries in other regions of the world, are subject to change).
If the local party with which your company is doing business has attachable assets outside of the Middle East in a country where collections may be deemed less frustrating, that can be a plus. But, as with just about everything else, there is no substitute for experience -- and solid, relevant legal experience may be one of your best assets at the negotiating table.
Jul 28, 2014 2:48 PMJHI wishes our many friends in the Muslim world a happy Eid al-Fitr. We would also like to advise clients and friends who do not observe this holiday to expect delays in certain services, and possible disruptions of projected time frames, due to office closures throughout the Middle East region during the holiday.
Jul 9, 2014 3:37 PMBetween the July 4 weekend and other summer holidays, high summer in the Middle East, the holy month of Ramadan, and some sort of soccer tournament, we find ourselves in the unusual position of having a little free time here at JHI.As such, watch THIS SPACE: In the coming weeks, JHI will post a brief article right here in our Notes & Comments section on Hydraulic Fracturing (colloquially referred to as “Fracking”).
Following Labor Day, JHI will publish a brief note on contracting with parties in Middle Eastern jurisdictions (in particular, Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the United Arab Emirates(UAE)); and, in a subsequent writing, JHI will share some thoughts on Arbitration Clauses when doing business internationally.
And, while there tends not to be many developments in the law anywhere in world during these summer months, JHI will continue to keep our eyes peeling concerning such developments as and when they affect Marcellus Shale Natural Gas, Charter Schools, Municipalities, Middle Eastern jurisdictions (particularly Gulf Cooperation Council jurisdictions), the law of Contracts, the laws of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the UAE (Abu Dhabi and Dubai) and the KSA, and business law generally.In the meantime, we would just like to wish all concerned a safe and happy summertime!
Jun 5, 2014 12:33 PMJHI is pleased to announce that the Firm's Founder and Principal has been awarded the honor of serving as Co-Chairman of the New York County Lawyers' Association's (NYCLA) Foreign & International Law Committee, effective June 1, 2014."This is an exciting time for the Foreign & International Law Committee, and NYCLA generally. Jay (Safer) and Jacqueline (Wolff) have done a terrific job as Co-Chairs of the Committee over the last several years, and we have some pretty big shoes to fill. It is an honor to follow them, and I will do my level best."Continuing the tradition of hosting excellent guest speakers, and working with NYCLA to explore the offering of CLE programs designed for international practitioners, will be at the top of Mr. Huf's agenda.Mr. Huf assumes the Co-Chairmanship of NYCLA's Foreign & International Law Committee with his distinguished colleague, Ms. Clara Flebus. They will serve together for the 2014-17 term.
Marcellus Shale Legal Update: Land/ Natural Gas Owners Challenge Constitutionality of Forced Pooling
May 29, 2014 1:05 PMA few individual private parties owning rights to the Marcellus Shale Natural Gas beneath their land have succeeded in adding themselves as litigants in an action between an energy company and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).In successfully inserting themselves as parties to a suit filed by Hilcorp Energy (to compel the DEP to approve more applications for horizontal drilling permits), five private land owners holding three affected parcels of land are seeking to have the court declare that forced grouping, or “Forced Pooling” violates the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As the additional drilling Hilcorp Energy seeks to perform partially depends on the enforcement of forced pooling, the court recognized the land owners as having standing and admitted their participation as parties to the case at bar.Forced Pooling is akin to the concept of “Eminent Domain”, wherein the owners of mineral rights and other such natural resources are compelled to lease their rights along the same terms and conditions as their neighbors for economic reasons.The court’s decision on the constitutionality of Forced Pooling will impact individual property rights in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and have economic repercussions across Pennsylvania and beyond. Also, regardless of the outcome, the court’s decision is likely to trigger off a series of appeals, separate suits and legislation (as well as impact the current course of pending legislation) that could well shape the success or failure of the development of Pennsylvania’s infant natural gas industry.JHI will continue to track developments affecting the rapidly changing Marcellus Shale legal landscape.
May 12, 2014 11:06 AMFrom time to time, a trial balloon is floated in one GCC jurisdiction or another concerning the imposition of a new tax, whether it be an individual income tax, corporate tax or a value added tax. The most recent of these is now floating over Dubai, which is still grappling with the residual effects of the 2008 crash while maintaining high levels of infrastructure spending.A prominent Emirati businessman based in Dubai publicly raised the idea of a corporate income tax in Dubai and voiced his general support for such an idea. This is easily to understand, given the depletion of Dubai's oil reserves, the reversal of 2008 and resulting cash crunch, and the Emirate's continued high level of spending. However, it would be somewhat akin to Killing the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg.Dubai rose up from the desert, transforming itself from a small trading post adjacent to Sharjah into the "City of Dreams", on the basis of its business-friendly laws, easy access to the oil-rich Gulf region, an unburdensome regulatory environment, quick access to financing and investment capital, and clever marketing revolving around the fact that the Emirate is Tax-Free.
While there are numerous government fees, paid annually, along with payments to sponsors, exceedingly high rental costs and other expenses one could say amount to a sort of taxation, companies and individual entrepreneurs from all over the world continue to flock to Dubai, drawn to the City of Dreams by the prospect of Tax-Free wealth. Imposition of a corporate income tax could threaten this influx and inspire existing businesses to relocate elsewhere in the Gulf. Even if such a tax were quickly repealled, reestablishing Dubai's image, carefully crafted and astutely marketed for many years, might be next to impossible. And, isn't the real "Dream" not quick wealth, but having a broad-based economy not entirely dependent upon oil in the very heart of the Gulf region?
If Dubai is the City of Dreams, the "Green Capital" of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, has been the Emirate of Reality. With much of the UAE's energy resources, over half the country's population and land mass (much of it still undeveloped), and a very similar body of business law and regulations, and a robust banking industry, Abu Dhabi is also Tax-Free. Abu Dhabi may not be known for a miraculous boom of the sort that made Dubai famous, but it has enjoyed steady, broad growth that has withstood the 2008 crash.Today, and not accidentally, Abu Dhabi is a leading target for foreign direct investment. A corporate income tax in Dubai would not only enhance the relative attractiveness of Abu Dhabi to newcomers to the region, it might also encourage some of Dubai's existing businesses to take a two-hour drive and check out why the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is "green" in more ways than one.
Jan 8, 2014 2:21 PMJHI's New York HQ office is up and running for 2014 following the Holiday Season (and a burst of inclement weather). As we return from our Holiday, the United Arab Emirates has announced the observance of a Holiday of their own:
Government offices, banks and private enterprises will be closed for business on Sunday, January 12, 2014 in celebration of the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed. This should not impact international business to any great degree, as Sunday is not a workday in most other parts of the world as it is in the UAE and other GCC states.
We look forward to working on an exciting array of projects this year, and Mr. Huf plans to travel frequently throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on business related to the booming Marcellus Shale natural gas industry.
Speaking of travel, it is that time of the year when Mr. Huf begins booking public speaking appearances. Your next conference or guest lecture series will be discussed for the remainder of the year - Mr. Huf really is that dynamic and compelling. Contact JHI today to discuss subject matters he addresses and to schedule a date. Your next event will be a winner!
JHI hopes your 2014 is as interesting and prosperous as ours. Happy New Year!
Nov 6, 2013 1:02 PMAs our economy transforms into something unrecognizable, the economics of the legal profession and provision of legal services have changed as well. Since 2008, law firms and business clients have grappled with possible solutions wherein legal advice and services of sufficient quality can be provided at a cost that makes sense to all concerned, with varying success.You should be aware of these developments and how they may benefit your company. One trend gaining popularity is the notion of “Part-Time In-House Counsel”, or an outside attorney from a private firm servicing your company’s in-house legal needs on a part-time basis. This arrangement can help your company (especially if you are a small to medium-sized company) to receive the high quality legal services it needs and deserves while controlling costs.Establishing an in-house legal department can be an expensive prospect. Hiring outside counsel at an hourly rate to perform traditionally in-house functions may also seem financially daunting. However, by negotiating a fair and reasonable arrangement with an experienced attorney for the provision of traditionally in-house legal services at a fixed periodic rate, a company can acquire the safety of having the legal advice it needs at a surprisingly comfortable cost.Why would a law firm agree to such an arrangement? Simply put, there is a continuing proliferation of new lawyers and the economy stinks. Further, a law firm is a business. Like any other business, law firms need to budget. Before a business can budget, it needs to be able to make reasonable projections of income. This requires steady, reliable income streams. By agreeing to a Part-Time In-House counsel arrangement, a law firm adds a stream of steady, reliable revenue and this, in turn, helps with income predictability.Also, there are certain situations attorneys prefer to avoid. Traditional arrangements, even with precautions, sometimes lead to unfortunate episodes, such as this one described by a colleague of ours in a very unvarnished fashion: HERE(Yes, folks, it takes years of hard work and focus to become an attorney. It takes many more years of dedication to become an experienced attorney. You like to be paid for your work. So do we.)Making a Part-Time In-House Counsel arrangement work for all concerned is not necessarily easy – in addition to the usual conflict of interest search and other procedures law firms employ when accepting new business, the firm and the business client need to sit down and do a thorough assessment of the company’s legal needs and anticipated professional services. The scope of the work, firm resources devoted to the Part-Time In-House Counsel work and anticipated hours per week need to be agreed upon in advance. Also, an adult discussion about the value of the work and what the company can reasonably afford, as well as other terms of payment of costs/ compensation, needs to be held.Stay ahead of the curve. Know how changes in the economics of lawyering can benefit your company. Knowing your company's options will better enable you to Explore the Boundaries of Your Business.