My Morning Routine: Rana El Nahal, partner at Zulficar & Partners
Rana El Nahal, partner at Zulficar & Partners: Each week, My Morning Routine looks at how a successful member of the community starts their day — and then throws in a couple of random business questions just for fun. Speaking to us this week is Rana El Nahal, partner at Zulficar & Partners Law Firm (LinkedIn). Edited excerpts from our conversation:
I'm Rana El Nahal, partner at Zulficar & Partners. I'm a proud daughter and wife, a loving mother of two, and a dedicated lawyer. I've got an enormous passion for what I do, which is strange because I come from a family of doctors. You could say I'm the odd one out.
I graduated from Cairo University in 2008 and received my master's degree from Georgetown in 2014 — the same year I had my first son. I had him one month before my finals but with tremendous support from my parents and husband, I managed to pull through and graduated with honors.
I'm an ever-evolving human being. I grow through experiences, whether good or bad, and never stop learning. I am quite proud of the journey that has brought me to where I am today.
My responsibilities at work are wide-ranging and encompass both strategic and operational aspects. I handle legal matters, advise clients, and work with my partners to manage a team of dynamic lawyers. I also play a role in business planning and development.
Contrary to popular belief, the field is so much more than just reading books and memorizing laws like you see on TV. Being a lawyer is challenging and enjoyable. There are so many different angles to it. One thing I really enjoy is that moment when we finish our research and build conclusions with our findings. It feels like putting the pieces of a puzzle together. I also enjoy drafting and negotiating contracts. A web of connected contracts or a transaction with an unusual structure feels like an art form — like writing a book with a premise and a story, connected from the first page to the last.
I have two kids, aged nine and two. They're my super early alarm clock every morning. It's a blessing because waking up early helps me get through so many tasks. I get up and get them ready for school and nursery, and either my husband or I drop them off, depending on the day. After that, I work out for 45 minutes. I do either yoga or kickboxing and I like to explore new sports every once in a while. Working out really helps me focus and set the tone for the rest of the day.
A typical workday for me is busy and fast-paced. My workday usually starts with a quick review of my emails, which always includes reading Enterprise. Believe it or not, I've been subscribed for eight years now. After that, I catch up with my colleagues to see if any pressing issues need to be addressed and to strategize tasks. Then I jump into meetings and calls, or work on legal documents.
The one constant in my day is that I prioritize and connect with the people I care about. This means making time for my family, whether checking in with my husband and kids or chatting with my parents. Family brings you back to reality and makes you feel that life is worthwhile. I take my responsibilities very seriously. But I also know the importance of taking time for myself and my family to recharge and be my best self.
One thing that helps me maintain balance is setting clear boundaries and sticking to them. I make sure that I have time in the evenings to spend with my children. I also do my best to prioritize self-care activities, such as exercise, reading a book, or listening to music. And I have to give credit to the firm and my team. The supportive environment at Zulficar & Partners and my partners' understanding of the importance of work-life balance make it all possible.
Staying focused and organized can be a challenge in today's fast-paced world, but with the right habits, it becomes easier. One of my secrets to staying on top of things is prioritizing tasks and breaking them down into smaller, manageable chunks. This helps me tackle each one more efficiently.
On a professional level, I am looking for new and innovative ways to challenge myself. I want to expand my expertise and stay updated with the latest developments.
On a personal level, I'm all about living life to the fullest. I have a bucket list of travel destinations that I would like to tick off. I'm always excited to explore new cultures, taste new cuisines, and immerse myself in new experiences.
I've been obsessed with podcasts recently — you can listen to content about anything and everything you're interested in and have them play while you're driving. I like the Lex Friedman Podcast and Diary of a CEO, where a British entrepreneur talks to some of the most interesting characters in business, entertainment, and sports. He had Egyptian Mo Gawdat on a couple of times which was very interesting.
I got two pieces of advice that I often reflect on from two inspiring women. The first was from my mother when I was much younger — quite simply to always do my best to be independent and take charge of my life. I live by it till this day.
The second was given to me by Ms. Mona Zulficar, who told me that lawyers are the dealmakers. This has taught me that while taking a more aggressive approach in legal negotiations may be tempting, it can be counterproductive. By focusing on being a dealmaker, you can help clients achieve their goals, build positive relationships with other parties, and establish yourself as a trusted legal advisor.