London, UK March 22, 2019 – Dorine Farah had a vision of what she wanted to do when she grew up: Be an attorney.
“It’s true - I always wanted to be a lawyer,” recalls Dorine, based in Baker Botts’ London office where she specializes in international arbitration. “Honestly, people find that hard to believe, but I always thought of myself as someone who would stand up in court and fight for big causes. I loved the idea of being an international lawyer – saw myself representing governments and parties, on the international plain, on issues of war and peace.”
Dorine’s vision of resolving international disputes is rooted in her childhood. As a Palestinian growing up in the Middle East, Dorine always had an international outlook and interest in world affairs. She is now living out her dream. Perhaps it’s because her family instilled in her the value of education, hard work and fighting for justice. Dorine’s grandmother, who was based in Jordan where Dorine spent most of her childhood, was a particular source of inspiration for Dorine. She was a highly educated woman who spoke three languages and had a career until she retired at the age of 65. She took charge of Dorine’s homework and education. “She always propelled me to be the best that I could be and try to achieve whatever I wanted to achieve regardless of any obstacles,” Dorine says. “I’ve always had ideas of fighting for justice and standing up for people who couldn’t defend themselves. Those ideas came from the people around me who nurtured that.”
Her solid family foundation and impressive legal education at Cambridge University have positioned Dorine to take on complex cases that required her to understand not only basic facts of the case, but also how to navigate her way through the laws of different countries. She loves how international and diverse her job is. One of her most memorable cases is representing the state of Ecuador in a dispute where she served as the lead associate. This included litigating the case before an international tribunal at the prestigious, historic Peace Palace in The Hague. The firm ultimately won the case. “It was my first experience of doing oral advocacy,” she remembers, particularly doing part of the opening submissions and cross-examining several witnesses.
Dorine’s found that Baker Botts’ culture has helped fuel and support her success. Nearly 11 years ago, when she first interviewed with the Firm, she was inspired by the work of Jay Alexander, who leads the Firm’s International Arbitration and Dispute Resolution practice, and the fact that the office did so much international work. “It’s contentious work, which I love,” she says. “I’m a litigator, and in my job, I have learned that there’s no such thing as ‘truth,’ there is only perception. What is true to one party might seem to be something completely different to another party, and both can argue a so-called ‘fact’ to mean entirely different things. I find that fascinating.”
What really gets Dorine excited is the actual trial. She loves questioning witnesses. “It’s a very human experience. You can take someone who may be the CEO of the largest company and has an incredible career, but when you put them in a chair and ask them questions as a witness, it’s very interesting to see how that person becomes vulnerable because it’s their credibility that is on the line. It’s also interesting to see if the tribunal buys your argument.”
For those women who want to follow in her footsteps, Dorine quickly points to perseverance and the importance of having a good mentor. “To not think of gender as a limiting factor,” she advises. “In the world, unfortunately, it is, but I think to push through that barrier you have to reject that it is there and persevere regardless.” When it comes to mentors, they can be men and women. “Mentorship is helpful to propel your career forward and help you navigate your way through early on when it’s not always obvious or intuitive.”
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