Siddiqa Al-Mawali is a young, vibrant and intelligent lawyer who is making amazing strides in Bahrain as the owner of Al Haq Law and Legal Consultants. She sat down with Kristian Harrison to discuss her professional journey, her inspirations and her future plans to enable more women to establish a career in law.
Can you tell us about your educational and professional background?
I first realised I wanted to be a lawyer when I was nine years old. I have a younger sister and I always used to defend her in petty arguments, so our father actually called me ‘lawyer’ as a nickname! The passion stuck throughout my teenage years and my parents were amazingly supportive when I told them I wanted to actively pursue it.
I eventually graduated with a law degree from the University of Bahrain. I undertook numerous courses to get as much experience as possible across the wide spectrum of law, but I took particular interest in mediation. I believe it’s so important because more cases than any other involve disputes between families and friends which can be solved without needing to go to court. I also receive a lot of cases regarding criminal and labour law, something I am extremely invested in.
After graduating, as required by Bahraini law, I had to work under another lawyer and I spent three years in training before being able to pursue my own path, taking cases from small offices before finally establishing my own company.
Why does labour law in particular appeal strongly to you and what is your most memorable case?
When people request help regarding their workplace, whether it is because they have been unfairly dismissed or have had their salaries withheld, I truly feel compelled to help them. Even for amounts that would be small to many of us, it can mean the difference between having something and having nothing to certain people.
This leads into my most memorable case, which was actually really simple. If I told it to another lawyer, they’d laugh about it! One woman came to me after her boss refused to pay her a salary of BD60, telling me she could not fight for it. I told her that no matter how small the amount, you are well within your rights to claim it if it is rightfully yours. We fought the case successfully and she received more than BD100 from the courts, and even though it was arguably the smallest case I’ve ever taken, it was the one I feel most proud of because of how thankful she was that I’d helped her when no one else would.
What advice would you give to young women looking at entering a career in law?
Being a female lawyer is a challenge in Bahrain, make no mistake. You have to be on call practically 24 hours a day. However, whatever the difficulty you have on the table, if it’s truly what you want then follow your passion because it is the most rewarding job imaginable.
What are your plans for the future?
My initial goal is to transfer Al Haq from an office of law to a company. This will allow it to be bigger and in fact, I already have a deal on the table to open another branch in Abu Dhabi so I hope that I can accomplish this soon.
Anything to add?
People have more rights than they think, especially expats from poorer countries who perhaps feel scared or intimidated. I’d love to find a way to educate these people more so that they know they are safe and if problems do arise, they have a legal backup to support them. Conversely, I also strongly believe that employers need education on how to treat their employees better. You can’t take passports or keep salaries, it’s totally against the law, and you have to be accountable.