AL-KHOBAR – Saudi women lawyers qualified to practice law in the Kingdom will be allowed to establish their own law firms, according to legal experts.
“Like their male counterparts, Saudi women lawyers can set up their own law offices and hire legal assistants,” said Dr. Ahmed A. Audhali, a leading lawyer in the Eastern Province. He said women lawyers can also join existing law firms managed by male legal advocates.
Mohammad Al-Issa, Justice Minister, recently announced that the ministry intends to issue a new draft law that will license women lawyers to practice their profession and represent other women in personal status cases pertaining to divorce, alimony and child custody. The new law will also allow women to perform basic procedures with notaries, such as registering and mortgaging property and authorizing corporate sponsorships and gifts.
“We in the legal profession are waiting for the minister of justice to issue the guidelines licensing women lawyers to practice. Until such time, women lawyers will continue working in jobs inside the women’s section of law and government offices,” Audhali said.
As part of ongoing judicial reforms, family courts will be established in which women lawyers will be allowed to practice.
The number of qualified women lawyers to be licensed is not known, according to Audhali. “We will know which lawyers are qualified to practice after the list of licensed women lawyers is released by the Ministry of Justice,” he said.
Most Saudi women lawyers are graduates of foreign universities, such as those in the United States, UK and Egypt, because no university in the Kingdom offers law courses for women.
“Based on their educational background, many Saudi women lawyers are good and we therefore expect a good performance from them,” Audhali said.
Another lawyer, who specializes in labor and civil laws, said interaction between women lawyers and judges who are all religious clerics could pose a problem. The appointment of women judges in family courts would be the solution, he said. – SG