As entrepreneurs in the UAE, do you find it difficult to navigate the legal landscape of the country when it comes to your business? If so, then you'll want to stay tuned to a new webinar series being launched by Irina Heaver, Partner and Head of Corporate and Commercial at Fichte & Co., and founder of AdRemLegal.com, a legal resources portal dedicated to supporting the UAE startup and SME community.
Heaver's eight-part webcast series, entitled “The Ultimate Startup Legals,” will aim at being a free avenue of timely and relevant legal information for entrepreneurs and startups in the country. The first two in these series, which take place on August 15th and 22nd, will focus on business disputes, with Heaver set to offer tried-and-true advice on what to do when your business is heading towards a showdown with an investor, shareholder, supplier or customer.
“When starting a business, your priority is product development and customer acquisition, while hiring a lawyer will be somewhere at the bottom of the list,” Heaver says. “Working with lawyers can be daunting, especially if you have never done it before. Affordability is another issue, some entrepreneurs think that lawyers are prohibitively expensive, which certainly is the case for most big law firms, whose target customers are multinational corporations. So, unfortunately, it does take a few business mistakes and a few losses before an entrepreneur realises the value that a good business lawyer can add to their venture. The good news is that in the last year, we had a couple of new entrants into the UAE legal services market specifically targeting SMEs and startups as clients, which is, of course, a welcome development. More market players mean a higher quality of services, and lower prices for consumers.”
An Australian qualified lawyer, Heaver came to Dubai nearly a decade ago to take up senior legal roles with multinationals in the oil and gas, construction and maritime industries, allowing her to specialize in the broad spectrum of commercial and corporate work, including M&A, corporate restructuring and governance issues, as well as complex joint ventures and strategic alliances. Over the past five years, she has been focusing on how emerging technologies are being introduced or developed alongside the traditional business models. Today, Heaver regularly advises e-commerce, digital media, online marketplaces, fintech and software development companies of various sizes, starting from the concept stage to those that are already established market leaders across the MENA region.
A few years ago, while still working as a senior lawyer in the oil and gas sector, Heaver started up AdRemLegal.com as a creative outlet, enabling her to offer her expertise to first-time entrepreneurs and startup businesses by providing a range of legal documentation, practical legal guides and regulations commentaries. Before long, the newly-established portal has evolved into a fledging business, but once she entered the UAE’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, she noticed how legal resources offered to entrepreneurs were scarce, often confusing and mostly outdated.
“If you talk to an entrepreneur from the US, Singapore or Hong Kong, they know more about investment and shareholders’ contracts than most lawyers do, from a practical prospective that is,” she says. “The ecosystem of those countries is developed to the level where there is an entire generation of entrepreneurs with successful exits and spectacular failures, who turn into mentors or angel investors. Therefore, the knowledge is being spread, recycled and used as a starting point for those who follow. In addition, a lot of established law firms in those countries offer educational events and publications for startups, some are offering free legal clinics. Information is easy to obtain."
But the scenario is different in this part of the world, says Heaver. "In the UAE, however, I see a lot of misunderstanding amongst business owners on various legal matters, with the major areas of confusion being incorporation issues, including where and how to incorporate to enable future growth and capital raise, as well as licensing and regulatory issues, primarily regarding which license is required and what regulations to comply with to avoid a showdown with the authorities. Of course, there are a lot of questions on what to include in co-founder agreements, and how to go about engaging with potential investors.”
Over the following eight weeks, Heaver will be offering pertinent information to all those currently trying to answer any of those questions. To register for the first webinar on August 15, which is is designed to suit the business needs of startup founders, CEOs of early stage businesses, entrepreneurs and angel investors, interested ‘treps should click here. CEOs and managers of established businesses, in-house counsels and investors in SMEs are encouraged to register for the second webinar on August 22nd by clicking here.