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From Melbourne to Abu Dhabi – associate Ruveena reports
"Great exposure to really interesting work"

"Many firms talk about their international opportunities, but at White & Case the chance to work overseas actually seemed like a real and immediate opportunity," says Ruveena Kaliannan, who started her career at the Firm as a graduate in Melbourne, moved to our Abu Dhabi office for her overseas rotation.

So why Abu Dhabi? Ruveena explains: "I completed my first rotation in the Project Delivery team in Melbourne and wanted to try out Project Finance for my second rotation. White & Case's Abu Dhabi office has a Projects focus, so it seemed like a natural fit. Additionally, I had heard that the office provided great exposure to really interesting work."

Cross-border work in an interesting location

With a choice of offices and countries, Ruveena felt that Abu Dhabi would be a particularly interesting option. "I felt that I would have further opportunities to work with other White & Case offices in the Asia-Pacific region throughout my career. Abu Dhabi and the Middle East generally was a little further afield and more unfamiliar. I also thought Abu Dhabi would be a great base to explore the region."

For Ruveena, the close ties between the work of the Melbourne and Abu Dhabi offices were an important consideration too. "I was also attracted to the possibility of working on cross-borders matters on a day-to-day basis —something I hope to continue upon my return to Melbourne."

So, has the experience lived up to her expectations? Absolutely, according to Ruveena: "The Abu Dhabi office has been incredibly welcoming, and the smaller size of the office has made it easy to get to know everyone and get involved in office events. I think that because most of the office has moved to Abu Dhabi from overseas, they've all been very supportive of the adjustment involved." She adds that, "Before arriving in Abu Dhabi, I was linked up with the other grads who would be based here for six months, meaning I already had a group of friends around to explore the city with."

More responsibility and exposure to multiple practices and offices

Ruveena tells us about the matters that she has been working on as part of the Project Finance team. "I've been involved in a variety of work advising both lenders and sponsors in areas including renewables, petrochemicals and infrastructure. The smaller size of the office here has meant that I've also been able to work with other teams as I've had capacity, and been involved in project delivery, construction and disputes matters too." She says that, "I've had the opportunity to have more responsibility with the matters I'm involved in, which can be intimidating but has also provided a great learning experience."

Collaborating with colleagues from the White & Case global network is something that happens regularly: "Most of the matters I've worked on have involved other offices—including New York, London, Riyadh and South Africa -—and this has been a great way to work with other lawyers in the Firm." 

In terms of the work, she says that the friendly office culture has helped her deliver great work. "Everyone is very approachable and friendly. Having lawyers from all over the world in this office means that everyone has quite different working styles, which has been great to learn from and figure out my own preferences." 

Travel and brunch: Fun outside the office

What about life outside the office? "Beyond many welcome lunches and drinks events, there's been go-karting, a desert day and an island brunch in the time I've been here. I've also been able to attend the Middle East Lawyers' Retreat while here and had the chance to meet people I'd worked with in the region." 

The Sunday – Thursday working week means that Friday is a day for meeting up with friends. "Abu Dhabi has great restaurants, bars and beach clubs, with a particular highlight being the Friday brunch culture!" 

Ruveena has taken advantage of her temporary home to explore the region. "Abu Dhabi is the ideal base to travel around the Middle East and Asia and, in my six months here, I've been able to visit Lebanon, Oman (twice!), Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, India and Jordan, as well as exploring around the UAE."

What's her final word to future lawyers who want to understand the benefits of developing their skills and experience in another country? "Working overseas is a great way to get out of your comfort zone, work on diverse matters, gain great experience and learn lots, all while meeting new people and exploring a new region."

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