Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Interview with Faizal Latheef, Entrepreneur and Partner at Kochhar & Co. Dubai

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1. Hello Faizal, can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
I am an attorney, by choice and passion. I have been analytical, organized and disciplined from my childhood days, and thought legal profession would be a great career choice.
I have close to two decades of experience, gained from one of the largest international law firms and a Fortune Global 500 company leading its operations in 35 countries in the Middle East and Africa. I am based in Dubai for over a decade now, and have also practiced litigation, in India.
After miraculously escaping from a car accident that almost put curtains on my life 13 years back, I enjoy every moment of my life now. I am thankful for all my blessings and am keen to make my ‘extended’ life count. I only see the immense possibilities and opportunities offered by life, and am driven by passion and excitement to pursue some extra-ordinary dreams. Outside of my profession, I enjoy a great family life with my lovely wife and two wonderful boys.

2. What are your focus areas and why?
I focus on the different aspects of business law, including foreign investment, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructuring and compliance. I have substantial experience working with large multinational corporations on international transactions and have led several multi-billion dollar deals on a variety of sectors.
I believe it is certainly possible for businesses to achieve their objectives in compliance with the laws. However, this is achievable only with the guidance of a ‘partner’ who understands their business and the challenges they face, and provide practical solutions rooted on law. I enjoy playing this ‘partner’ role.
I also guide investors on how to protect their investments. In view of the foreign investment restrictions in the UAE mainland and the applicability of Sharia laws, foreign investors must navigate certain challenges in this regard. Unfortunately, many of them are unaware of the importance or means to protect their investments and end up in trouble. For e.g. many of them are unaware that they can protect their minority shareholding through skilfully drafted agreements, or Dubai has become the first jurisdiction in the Middle East to permit non-Muslim expatriates to register Wills governed by UK common law principles!

3. How do you describe “Kochhar & Co.” in few words?
Kochhar & Co is one of the largest law firms in India, with over 200 lawyers and 7 offices. We are also the only Indian law firm in the UAE mainland, licensed by the Dubai Legal Affairs Department. We started our operations in Dubai in 2014, and have made our presence felt in this short period.
The trade relations between the Middle East and India is centuries old. India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world now, and the UAE is uniquely positioned as the gateway to the east and west. Given the vast presence of the Indian businesses in the UAE and our presence in both the UAE and India, I believe we are ideally positioned to embrace a great growth trajectory.

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4. Where do you think you are making an impact?
I have been fortunate to practice law from different perspectives and in multiple jurisdictions. My bouts with an international law firm, a Fortune Global 500 corporation and a top-tier UAE law firm have helped me in understanding the diverse perspectives of legal practice. My dispute resolution experience helps me in quickly identifying and mitigating risks associated with a commercial transaction. All these enable me to analyse a challenge from multiple angles and find the most practical solution for my client. I believe this is where I make a decisive impact.
Further, I firmly believe in personal relationships and ‘invest heavily’ in people. My keenness to find synergies and ability to build relationships help me to forge long-lasting relationships. I am proud to say that I have great friends across the world – from and outside the legal sector – who have been of help to my clients, often!

5. What are some things that most people don’t know about your job?
Many of my friends think that my job is all about reviewing documents, which is tiresome! They have no clue about how exciting each of my day is! Whether it be meeting with people from across the world and different walks of life, or structuring a multi-billion dollar investment in multiple jurisdictions, or negotiating a commercial transaction, or giving lectures on various topics, it’s all exciting!
It is always inspiring to listen to entrepreneurs and business leaders who have ‘been there and done it’. Their stories inspire me to dream big, give me the confidence to get out of my comfort zone, and empower me to conquer my fears, to achieve something that I would not have dared otherwise!

6. With the raise of new technologies, the Law services market is very changing, where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
We are living in an ever-changing world, in terms of technology. I can see a considerable difference in the way legal profession is practiced now and how it was almost 20 years back when I started practice. In a market like the UAE, where competition is severe and technological changes are embraced with open hearts, I, as a lawyer, is ever conscious about the need to adapt.

7. What were some of the biggest challenges you encountered while working on “Kochhar & Co.”?
The biggest challenge I am facing now is – finding the right strategy to make full advantage of the firm’s strengths! The firm has presence in all the major Indian cities and has some wonderful lawyers in each of these offices. The firm represents close to a hundred of the Fortune Global 500 corporations in India and have great connections across the world. I am hopeful to find a solution soon!

8. What makes Dubai Office unique?
As I mentioned earlier, we are the only Indian law firm in the Middle East. There are many multinational corporations with business interests in the Middle East and India alike, and they prefer to deal with one firm for all their requirements therein. In this respect, we are uniquely positioned.
In Dubai, we are a small family of 12 lawyers, including 4 partners. Most of us have been in the UAE for a considerable amount of time and are well conversant with the local laws and culture. Many of us also have in-house experience working with reputable corporations. And more importantly, the cohesion among the team helps us to find the ideal solution for our clients.

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9. What are you most excited about at the moment?
I proudly call Dubai “the city of dreams”! We are truly blessed to have a ruler who dreams big, and is keen to make Dubai the best in the world. Dubai, with over 200 nationalities is one of the most business-friendly destinations in the world. As a business lawyer, I am excited by the infinite possibilities offered by Dubai and the UAE. I am keen to be part of this amazing journey, and contribute in my own way!

10. The last word or final thoughts?
Dubai is the best example of what human beings can achieve! From a barren desert, a few decades back, it has transformed to become one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world – just because the rulers have dared to dream the unimaginable!
Let us follow this religiously and achieve greater heights! Life is always amazing!

To know more about Faizal, connect with him using:



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Noelle Elia
Noelle Elia
is a Financial analyst at PSPC. Graduated from Telfer School of Management, Finance/Accounting with interest to Entrepreneurship and New Media.
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