Saudi Arabian All-Women Law Firm Opens to Serve the Needs of Female Clients
Though it's not known for "women friendly" policies, the country of Saudi Arabia now has an all-women law firm. Even though the country's female citizens aren't legally allowed to drive, they can practice law — at least as of October when the country's first female lawyer with full practice rights, Bayan Mahmoud Alzahran, was granted her license. Now she and three other female lawyers have teamed up to open Saudi's first women-only firm, which aims to fight for the rights of Saudi women and to better represent their problems in court — problems they believe male lawyers cannot fully understand. The firm opened Wednesday in Jeddah, a city on the kingdom's western coast that is home to about 3 million people.
However, Alzahran says that the firm won't only cater to female clients. Alzahran told Al Arabiya News Channel, “Our activity is not restricted to cases involving only women. Saudi Arabia’s lawyer system treats men and women equally and a lawyer has the right to represent men and women." Here here!
In a country where all women require a male guardian, effectively making them minors from a legal perspective, having a law firm that can legally represent their interests is huge. Is it going to immediately bring an end to the oppression codified into Saudi Arabia's legal system? No, but it's an important step. Because even though women in the court room will still be wearing the abayah and niqab, and presumably won't be allowed to drive to work, this is still a chance for women's interests to be properly represented in the legal system.
And even though four lawyers can't hope to offer legal counsel and representation to all the women in Jeddah, hopefully their example will help male lawyers better understand how to represent their female clients. Plus, with any luck, more female lawyers will be following in their footsteps, too.