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ACC Certification Program: Q&A With Rim El Kassaby

ACC's first in-house counsel certification program was recently held in Dubai, April 30 - May 3. In this series, we spoke with some of the first participants — and graduates — of the program about why they decided to attend, what sessions were most useful and offered key takeaways they were able to take back to the legal department, and most importantly, if they'd recommend the program to colleagues. Read on to see what they have to say, and find out more about the upcoming program, to be held September 3 - 6, 2018, here.

Rim El Kassaby Rim El Kassaby is a French-educated Egyptian lawyer working as the associate director of legal and compliance for Middle East in MSD. Previously, she was an associate in Baker & McKenzie in Bahrain, before moving to Dubai in 2012. Here, she offers her thoughts on ACC's first certification program held in the region.

ACC: ACC's first in-house counsel certification program was recently held in Dubai, April 30 - May 3. Why did you decide to participate in this program — what made it stand out?

Rim El Kassaby: I decided to participate because it was the first of its kind for in-house counsel! I do not believe that the needs of in-house counsels are addressed. In fact, there is not much offered which addresses the training (or any aspect thereof) of the in-house counsel in the manner that this course does. At least, I had not seen it yet in Dubai. It stood out!

ACC: Can you share a key takeaway(s) from the four-day program? In other words, what did you learn or perhaps further your knowledge of during the program that you can take right back to your legal department?

Rim El Kassaby: Learning to develop and manage relationships with different stakeholders and how to communicate with your C-suite officers — especially at a time of crisis for example — was particularly relevant to us and our legal department at MSD. I also learned that there are a lot of skills that in-house counsel can learn in order to enhance and improve the way they do their jobs. It was also enriching to meet colleagues from different countries who flew to Dubai to attend the training with full enthusiasm. It was such an inspiring four days for me!

ACC: Can you provide an example of a particularly relevant session?

Rim El Kassaby: All of the sessions were extremely useful and engaging but the session that was really relevant to me was the Compliance, Ethics and Legal Risk Management. This is, of course, because of the increasingly important role of the in-house counsel in shaping the compliance program in the company and its implementation.

It was also enriching to meet colleagues from different countries who flew to Dubai to attend the training with full enthusiasm. It was such an inspiring four days for me!
— Rim El Kassaby, Associate Director of Legal and Compliance for Middle East, MSD

ACC: This was ACC's first certification program, with curriculum developed by a diverse Education Advisory Council (EAC). The council helped to identify the essential and critical skills for in-house counsel that program addressed. That said, what additional skills or areas of focus would've made the program even stronger? Are there other skills the program should consider addressing in the future?

Rim El Kassaby: Perhaps to address the challenges faced by in-house counsel in the different regions with some focus on our diverse region. I would also love more in the area of risk assessment. Workshops on the uses of technology in the in-house counsel role. How to conduct an (fraud) investigation would also be quite interesting for in-house counsel. Sector-focused sessions maybe, like the pharma sector or the banking and finance industries, to name a few.

ACC: Certifications like this one, as well as advanced degrees in general, are options for lawyers who want to strengthen their business knowledge and increase their professional marketability. Have you noticed a trend of more attorneys in your professional networks and beyond who have completed similar certifications or obtained MBAs, for example?  

Rim El Kassaby: Yes. I myself attended a compliance certification program earlier this year! There is definitely a trend. In-house counsels in my view should seek opportunities to educate themselves about the different stakeholders and functions they are working with. For example, I am watching out for a training in finance (yes!) and on project management for example. Each training enhances my knowledge and definitely increases my marketability, as you say. Many lawyers in my professional network are thinking the same way.

ACC: Would you recommend ACC's In-house Certification Program to your colleagues? What advice can you offer other corporate counsel who want to participate in the program, but may need to convince their GC or boss?

Rim El Kassaby: Yes, definitely! In fact, I just forwarded the dates of the new ACC training, which is taking place in Dubai in September, to my colleague at another pharmaceutical company for her to register and attend. If only I could attend the course again! I would advise her to explain that the certification program is the first of its kind with a curriculum designed by leading international general counsel. She may reach out to ACC for the articles about the inaugural class and a description of the program to send to her manager.

About the Authors

Tiffani R. AlexanderTiffani Alexander is the senior editorial director, web content and publications of the Association of Corporate Counsel.

The information in any resource collected in this virtual library should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on specific facts and should not be considered representative of the views of its authors, its sponsors, and/or ACC. These resources are not intended as a definitive statement on the subject addressed. Rather, they are intended to serve as a tool providing practical advice and references for the busy in-house practitioner and other readers.