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10 minutes with Catherine Osborn – making the most of legal consulting in the UAE

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We caught up with Catherine Osborn, an experienced real estate lawyer, about her move to legal consulting in the UAE. She shared what she most enjoys about it as well as some of her top tips for anyone considering exploring it.


What prompted your decision to become a legal consultant?

I wanted to get back into work but with the flexibility that traditional law firms here in the UAE find difficult to offer to new joiners. So along with the career gap (due to relocation, Covid and childcare) and a background in English property, I couldn’t find the right permanent legal role. Also, I didn’t know if working full time was the right fit for our family situation. Being a legal consultant seemed like a good way to address those issues, plus it put some much needed local experience on my CV (whether we stayed in the UAE or relocated). It also gave me a Plan B if our family relocated again, I’d have options to continue to work with Peerpoint remotely or if we ended up back in the UK or another jurisdiction where you're based.


What have you enjoyed the most about being a legal consultant?

Working for one client, seeing the business side of things and of course, no complex timesheets, no three sixty appraisals or tick box exercises and much less office politics. As a consultant, I can do my work and focus on that.


Tell us about your experience with Peerpoint.

I’ve been very impressed – from the outset the team made the admin side of restarting my career very easy. I get all the benefits of working for A&O (visa, training, online support, healthcare package). Plus, while I’m working on-site at the client I have ongoing support from the A&O legal team as well as Peerpoint. 


What are your three pieces of advice for someone considering legal consulting in the UAE?

1. Make sure you budget – Whether it’s extra childcare, extra help at home and of course unpaid holidays. Plus as a consultant, you suddenly notice how many (unpaid) statutory holidays the UAE has.

2. Don’t be afraid to just give it a go – If you get onto the Peerpoint panel you can be confident that they know you’ve got the skills their clients are looking for. Even if it’s not the kind of assignment you’d have thought about or it might be outside your immediate skill set don’t discount exploring it! 

3. Be honest about what you want and need from the process – I’ve been able to be very honest with Peerpoint so that we could find the right ‘fit’ for me. For example, what are your primary motivations for choosing consultancy? Is it more flexibility? Is it more experience? Is it financial? And be ready for Peerpoint to be honest about what they need in return to deliver the best experience of legal consulting for you e.g. what level of commitment will be needed, what client expectations are etc. I think being honest is the best way to find the right balance.


Your move to legal consulting was really interesting as you pivoted your skill-set, what would you advise others who are flirting with the idea of changing their specialism or sector?

Go for it! It’s part of the zeitgeist to say ‘pivot’ – but actually I use the same set of analysis skills, organisational skills, and client care skills as I did before. There’s less pivoting than you are led to believe. 

I would say that if you do want to work in different areas, be open to learning (formally and from colleagues). Peerpoint offered me support, training and online courses and I’m now looking into taking new qualifications as I’ve (unexpectedly) enjoyed some of the different areas I’ve been working on at the client assignment. Plus Peerpoint were open with the client from the outset about my background not being in corporate law – so far, it’s worked out well for all concerned! 


Find out more

To find out more about legal consulting opportunities in the UAE contact Azara Digan.