MasterCard Worldwide’s Lucas Sork, who is based in Dubai, took out the Legal Counsel of the Year Award at a ceremony held in Dubai on 15 May, beating three other contenders in the category.
“Our general counsel, Tim Murphy, and deputy general counsel, Mike McEneney, encourage every person in the legal department to strive for excellence and to enjoy doing it,” Sork (pictured) told Lawyers Weekly.
“To be the fortunate recipient on the night is an honour and a privilege, however, no-one ever wins an award like this without the contribution of many people and I am delighted to celebrate this award with the entire legal team,” he said.
Sork began working at MasterCard Worldwide in 2012 as vice president, head of legal and regional general counsel for Middle East and Africa (MEA).
In his role, Sork has had to effectively juggle multiple priorities in a legal practice that has more than doubled in size since he joined the company.
“The obvious challenge for me is the sheer size and diversity of my region. I cover 69 (and growing) countries in two continents,” he said.
“I deal with many different legal systems – from Sharia law to the Egyptian Civil Code to South African Common Law.”
He has to deal with multiple cultures and languages, including English, Arabic and French.
He has also had to put his negotiating skills to the test to obtain scarce internal resources, slowly increase the size of the MEA legal team, and leverage external counsel.
Sork has also been involved in starting and managing the implementation of a new global document retention policy by collaborating with the compliance and data protection and privacy teams.
“While this diversity creates challenges, it also ensures that, in my opinion, I have one of the most interesting legal jobs in the world,” he said.
Working in Dubai has been an interesting experience for Sork, having lived there for almost eight and a half years.
He has seen how the city has quickly developed its infrastructure – roads, public transport, schools and hospitals.
He feels the culture fits like a glove for long term expats.
“While it is a Middle Eastern city, you can live in Dubai without really feeling like you are in the Middle East,” he said.
He lives in Dubai with his wife, and his sons were born there. But he will always call Australia home, and his family frequents Australia every year.
“We are looking forward to the day when we are able to call Australia our permanent home again,” he said.
In their third year, the awards, hosted by Legal Week, are open to in-house legal teams and law firms in the region.
Other winners included Clifford Chance winning the International Law Firm of the Year and DLA Piper winning the CSR Award.