Introducing Brent Baldwin, Special Counsel.

20 April 2023

I followed a fairly typical career path after graduating from the University of Otago, starting off with several years in a provincial firm before relocating to Auckland and building up a broad background in commercial property

After practising for around 10 years I was unsure where the next phase of my career was going to take me, and around this time I was approached by an old work colleague who had shifted to Dubai. Through a convoluted chain of relationships he let me know about a local independent law firm who were looking for a property lawyer. The Dubai property market was very active at the time, and a range of new laws had been introduced so there was an opportunity to get involved at an early stage. Things moved quickly and before you could say “Salam alaykum” I found myself sitting in an office in a new construction zone called “Downtown Dubai”.
This was to be the new commercial zone of Dubai. Our low-rise office complex was fully complete but immediately next door the world’s largest building, the Burj Khalifa, was under construction, along with the world’s largest shopping mall, a brand-new metro, and a multitude of high-rise apartment and commercial buildings. The entire city was go, go, go!

I stayed for several years and worked on many exciting property developments which saw the city grow. Dubai is a fascinating place, not just for the size and pace of change but also the eclectic mix of different cultures and ways of doing business. Although the Global Financial Crisis made for a bumpy ride at times, the city recovered and Dubai has gone from strength to strength.

Not far down the road from Dubai is the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi, where my next move took me. Abu Dhabi is a quieter and more conservative city than Dubai, but equally as fascinating. I managed the legal departments for several government related companies there, and got involved in a diverse range of projects, including residential property development, schools and kindergartens, hotels, leisure facilities and other international projects.

It's great to look back on some of the developments I worked on and feel like I’ve made a small contribution to the country. On top of that my children were born in the UAE so there’ll always be a strong connection. I could have stayed longer but Covid and the desire to raise my children in New Zealand brought me home to the Waikato, and to Norris Ward McKinnon, where I’m Special Counsel in the firm’s Corporate and Commercial team.

Corporate & Commercial Team