Recent LL.M. graduate Ali Zahid Rahim knew the math was not in his favor.
“More than 1,000 people apply each year,” Rahim says of the World Bank’s high-profile Legal Associates Program in Washington, D.C. “They accepted 15 people when the program started in 2004, and that number has gone down every year since. Needless to say, I had few expectations.”
All of which merely added to Rahim’s excitement when the World Bank named him among its 2008 group of associates. Only 25 of the 1,000-plus applicants were interviewed—just seven were accepted.
Rahim came to Berkeley Law with four years experience in civil litigation and corporate transactional work at a private firm in Lahore, Pakistan. He was lead counsel for a private equity group in the acquisition of one of Pakistan’s largest real estate and construction companies, negotiated various agreements in a hydroelectric power project, and successfully appealed a two-year ban imposed on a renowned cricket player by a commission of the Pakistan Cricket Board.
In Step with the Mission
But even with a successful private sector career, Rahim increasingly wanted to move toward public interest law—especially projects with a sharp policy perspective. With about 13,500 employees and 125 lawyers, the World Bank—which lends about $25 billion per year to 185 member countries—presents ample opportunities.
“Its mission is poverty alleviation, economic growth and social equity,” says Rahim, the first Berkeley Law graduate and first Pakistani admitted into the program. “That really spoke to me, and I think it’ll be a great experience working in a truly multi-cultural environment.”
Rahim will rotate through the Bank’s various practice groups to develop concrete skills and specific country expertise. His duties will include legal research, comparative legal analysis, and drafting documents while working in units that deal with issues such as environmental law, corporate finance, and mediating between countries with foreign investment disputes.
Rahim, who got married last year, begins his one-year appointment on September 2 with the possibility of staying for a second year based on individual performance and business needs. Legal associates who perform exceptionally well have the chance to remain as staff on a long-term basis.
“Hopefully, I can work at the World Bank for a few years, go back to Pakistan and use all the knowledge and experience I gained there,” Rahim says. “I’m really looking forward to the opportunity, and to living in Washington during these exciting political times.”
— By Andrew Cohen