Monday Profile: Ramy Shabana

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An East Lansing native and University of Michigan alumnus, Ramy Shabana joined Ayar Law Group in 2015, bringing with him a background of unique business expertise.

He previously practiced solo for several months in Michigan after four years as an associate at the Kuwait City office of Al Tamimi & Company, a Dubai-headquartered law firm and the largest regional law firm in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Working in Al Tamimi’s corporate structuring and mergers and acquisitions practice, Shabana represented several Kuwaiti and multinational corporations in large-scale acquisition as well as commercial law, military contracts and international arbitration. He became the leading associate for the Kuwait office’s PPP (Public-Private Partnership) and Project Finance division which was responsible for advising lenders, sponsors, and government entities with respect to multi-billion-dollar infrastructure projects meant to revitalize the country’s infrastructure.

Shabana earned his law degree from the University of Detroit after graduating from U-M with a degree in business administration.

He is active in his community, organizing neighborhood cleanups, clothing drives and food banks, and offering free business and legal advice to early-phase startups and attendees of Bizcome, a business incubator.

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

What would surprise people about your job? It’s a lot more personal than people realize. It’s not just about the numbers. Every client has a very personal story about his/her issues, and the back-story is the driving force behind the resolution. 

Why did you become a lawyer? I’ve always been proactive and outgoing and I’ve always liked dealing with people and organizations. I’m a problem solver who likes to get involved with helping people directly. Most clients are embarrassed, and we have to remind ourselves of that every time, in order to provide comfort, too. It’s a very trusting relationship. I get personal gratification from helping people find peace and resolution.

What advice do you have for someone considering law school?
Don’t go to law school just because you want to be a lawyer. Figure out what you’re good at and what you want to do first—then having a J.D. will help you in that position. Take a step back and ask, ‘What do I really want to do—help non-profits, civil rights, etc.?’ Have the experience before you throw the J.D. at it.

What’s your proudest moment as a lawyer? Within the past year, I switched from corporate clients to personal clients. I’ve helped so many people with tax issues that were crippling their lives. That is so rewarding—that’s something money can’t touch.  We’re not looking for gratitude, but it makes you very proud when you know clients are grateful.

What other career path might you have chosen?
My first year of undergrad, I was Pre-Med—I probably would have gone that way. I was a science nerd. I was good at it, but I didn’t really enjoy it. My roots were always in wanting to be a lawyer.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
Closing a deal on an independent water/power plant to provide power and fresh water in the Middle East, where water is scarce. It was a $1.4 billion dollar deal in Kuwait. That was the most complex transaction with many banks, government entities, and investors. It took 2½ years to close the deal. 

What is the best thing about working for Ayar Law? We have a high degree of control on how we can help people. We’re able to really listen to the client.  It sounds cliché, but we put the client first.  It’s a small, dedicated firm that does a lot of work, and we’re actually helping people. 

Favorite websites: I use Reddit a lot. I love it for news that comes out quickly and it has interesting articles.

Favorite app: Mint, from Intuit. It consolidates banking, credit cards, and student loans in one place.

What’s your favorite law-related movie?
“Michael Clayton,” starring George Clooney. I liked that movie. Maybe it was over the top with the drama, but instead of focusing on legal memorandums, etc., it highlighted what makes a great attorney—your personal skill set. He could resolve issues no one else could handle.  Not just the job, but how you think and approach the challenges of the job.

If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would that be?
Someone in a high-level executive branch position of government. I’m very interested to see the depths of the bureaucracy in Washington, and why we can’t solve problems. 

What do you do to relax? Golf, or go to a driving range. It’s just me, myself, and I—I can shut out all the noise in the world and focus on that simple task of hitting a ball. You can get absorbed in it with no distractions.

What would you say to your 16-year-old self?
Stay committed, don’t give up, and go with the flow of life.

Favorite local hangouts:
My favorite hangout is my home, but I like trying out new restaurants in Detroit.

Favorite music: Hip Hop—there’s been a boom for local artists. One of my favorites is bigOmuziq. He’s actually an attorney.

What is your happiest childhood memory? I was born and raised in East Lansing. I loved being on campus at MSU, where my dad was working on his Ph.D. It was an extremely fun time for me as a kid, because there was always something happening on campus.

What do you wish someone would invent? A teleportation system that could take you there and back in an instant. I’d never have to drive. 

What has been your favorite year so far and why?
2011, the year after I graduated from law school I was working overseas in Kuwait. It was interesting and exciting, but I missed home everyday. The culture wasn’t so different, it was just the way of life—simple amenities we take for granted weren’t there, such as Internet that works all the time, with speed. It was dial-up for the first two years in my apartment.

What’s the most awe-inspiring place you’ve been? The Pyramids. They’re so massive, and when you think about when and how they were built...it’s pretty amazing.

If you could have one super power, what would it be? Super speed—able to do complex things very quickly.

What’s one thing you would like to learn to do? One of my biggest passions is human rights, poverty, equality. I’d like to find a practical solution to fixing poverty; figure out why we cant get past the bureaucracy. We have the resources to solve all of our problems, I’d like figure out why we just can’t do it.

What is something most people don’t know about you?
I used to play lacrosse at Huron High School in Ann Arbor. 

Who would be three people (living or dead) as dinner companions?
Thomas Jefferson, Muhammad Ali, Barack Obama.

 

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