1. Hi Mark, before answering more specific questions, could you briefly tell us about your background?
I come from Alexandria, Egypt where I spent my high school years. I completed my double Bachelor’s degrees in French and Egyptian law from the University of Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris I) and Cairo University at the Institut de Droit des Affaires Internationales (IDAI) in Cairo, Egypt. I then completed my Masters in Arbitration and International Trade Law at the University of Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris I) in Paris, France.
As part of my Masters, I interned at Bredin Prat and following this I had two internships as a foreign Egyptian lawyer at Herbert Smith Freehills and Leboulanger & Partners in Paris, France. Since May 2016, I am a Deputy Counsel in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean team of the Secretariat of the ICC International Court of Arbitration.
2. What are the reasons that led you move to Paris to continue your studies and start your career in arbitration?
Being trilingual with a background in French and Egyptian law and very passionate about pursuing a career in international dispute resolution, I was very keen to embark upon my career in Paris, the hub of international arbitration in the world, to benefit from the universities’ and law firms’ expertise in this field. After the completion of two additional summer internships at Hafez Avocats and Ginestié Magellan Paley Vincent and before coming to France to pursue my career in international arbitration, I had the chance to learn more about the matters dealt with in arbitration and how interesting it could be to work in an international environment and excel in international dispute resolution through international arbitration.
3. Why did you choose to work in an institution such the ICC instead of a law firm?
Being the world’s leading arbitral institution, the ICC gives you a unique opportunity to learn about many aspects of institutional arbitrations. While corresponding with parties and arbitral tribunals on a daily basis and briefing the ICC Court on decisions that it is required to take, you become acquainted with many different industry sectors and many procedural problems that may arise in an arbitration. Therefore, by working in the ICC as a young practitioner you get a great exposure at an early stage of you career and the acquired knowledge becomes a great asset for your future career as counsel in a law firm or as an in-house counsel.
4. What are particularities of arbitration in the Middle East?
Recent years have indeed seen significant developments in arbitration legislation, jurisprudence and practice across the Middle East and North Africa (“MENA”) region. I have now administered over 150 ICC arbitration cases from multiple regions including the MENA region and have confirmed that certain procedural requirements are particular to this region. Perhaps more often than in many other regions, the arbitrators and the ICC Court discuss these procedural requirements to ensure that the ultimate goal of arbitrations (i.e., obtaining enforceable awards) is fulfilled. Working in arbitration cases in such region requires a good knowledge of the aforementioned elements but most importantly of the culture of the respective countries in the region. Being familiar with civil law but also common law is an advantage as arbitrations in the MENA region vary in the chosen places of arbitration and applicable laws.
5. Can you give some tips for young students who want to start an international career in arbitration?
In my opinion, Thoroughness, Commitment and Perseverance are the key elements of a successful career in arbitration.