When it comes to legal issues, Atyab Alshatti speaks for those who can’t be heard; particularly those whose language restrictions prevent them from understanding the law.
But she’s not just a ‘legal eagle’. Atyab is also a journalist and author with international ambitions. And she never leaves home without a book.
1. Please introduce yourself to our readers:
My name is Atyab Alshatti, an ambitious Kuwaiti woman and a lawyer. As a journalist I write for a local Arabic and an English newspaper. I am also the author of two published books.
2. Tell us about your education:
I studied at Oxford Elementary School in Kuwait. When I had to join high school my parents signed me in a public school so I could be more involved with the Arab education system. I graduated with a high GPA that helped me get into law school in Kuwait University.
3. Did you always know you wanted to be a lawyer?
My dream was always to be a lawyer. I remember my study mates back in our college days when they would write lists of what kind of jobs they wanted to do once they had graduated. They used to worry about it but I never had one of these lists. I always knew what I wanted to be. Being a lawyer is like being a messenger for justice and a rescuer for the people who are facing injustice. This job gives me a reason to live and a cause to fight for.
4. What was your initial experience in law practice?
My initial experience was practicing criminal law.
5. What are you doing now as a lawyer?
I followed up working in criminal law and I’m also working on family law and the commercial law for now.
6. Tell us more about the campaign you are promoting?
I have noticed that expats are facing language barriers when it comes to understanding their legal rights and obligations in Kuwait. It says by law that all individuals have to keep up with the latest updates but they won’t be able to acknowledge these law updates due to the language difference. Some of them are surprised by a judgment or a legal settlement, later finding out they have signed papers to waive their financial or legal rights without knowing that they actually did so because it was all written in Arabic. So I started this campaign through the ‘legal eagle’ weekly article in Arab Times. Each week I talk about a different sector of law and try to raise the legal awareness of the readers. I have also worked with Kuwait TV 2nd channel on their Hala Kuwait program to present a legal segment.
7. You have also written some books. Can you tell us more about them?
Sure! The first book is called ‘An esquire reading the pain of men’. It’s a novel about how some women misuse the family law against men. This is a real issue that lots of men are actually facing in Kuwait. Due to family law, women get to have several kinds of alimonies. One of these is called ‘frozen alimony’ where the woman could have an amount of money every month if her husband is unable to prove he was giving her alimony and satisfying her financial needs for the last two years. This matter is really tricky! How would a man prove that he has provided her with the money? Should the male spouse keep receipts of what he buys or from the restaurants he takes his wife to? Is marriage based on evidence or is it based on trust and sharing responsibilities? Unfortunately, some women misuse this law to claim money they don’t deserve. That was the main subject of the novel. The second book is called ‘Monologues of the Moon’ and it’s poetry.
8. What has been your biggest success so far?
My biggest success was using my article space in a local newspaper to speak for those who can’t be heard and to show my perspective in a lot of matters that I am against. The articles that I write in the newspaper are the space where I feel free to criticize and point out some of the issues that are happening wrongly – in my point of view of course.
9. If you couldn’t work in the law, what would you be?
If I couldn’t work in law I would definitely be a journalist who stands for the truth and gives the real story!
10. What are some of your other hobbies?
Reading and swimming.
11. What are your future plans and what would you like to ultimately achieve in life?
I’m thinking of working internationally in the future by joining an international law firm.
12. What is one thing that you discovered in real practice that your law school didn’t teach you?
The actual barrier that expats are facing in Kuwait, which is language. Unfortunately law school made it seem like the law is knowledgeable to everyone and that language is never a reason to not know the law updates.
13. What are three things you don’t leave your house without?
I don’t leave the house without perfume, my civil ID and a book.
14. Which is your favourite travel destination and why?
Turkey, Istanbul. It’s the country of my origins and I’m familiar with it.
15. What are your three best pieces of career advice for law students and/or new lawyers?
Never depend on someone to do your work for you. Always be a hard worker. Love what you do because once you love it you will achieve the best.
16. Your message for us at CP magazine:
Keep shining! Awesome teamwork !