Hdeel Abdelhady






Hdeel Abdelhady
Founder & Principal

Hdeel Abdelhady brings to the table a unique combination of legal technical skill and situational awareness. With cross-practice transactional, regulatory and disputes experience gained in the United States and augmented abroad, Hdeel lends distinctive value to clients with her ability to identify issues and connect dots across legal areas and commercial, territorial, and cultural lines.

Noted by clients and colleagues for her client commitment, Hdeel’s approach is to understand clients’ business and strategic needs, and engage meaningfully to ensure that she and her clients are working toward the same goals.

Hdeel started her career with Fulbright & Jaworksi (now Norton Rose Fulbright) in Washington, D.C. and was a senior associate with DLA Piper based in Dubai (with Washington, D.C. residencies). As a former large firm lawyer and in her independent practice, Hdeel has acted as lead transactional and regulatory counsel to U.S. and foreign banks, sovereign entities, companies and non-profits. On their behalf, Hdeel has negotiated, drafted and executed conventional and Islamic finance, corporate, and commercial transactions and advised U.S. and foreign banks, money services businesses, companies, and non-profits on sanctions, anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, and counter-terrorism financing matters, including providing client training and drafting compliance programs. In addition, Hdeel has represented U.S. and foreign companies in international treaty and commercial arbitrations opposite sovereigns and private parties. Her matters have involved the United States, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe.

Having handled transactions, compliance matters and disputes, Hdeel understands how transactions are put together, and why they fall apart. She is well-positioned to identify and manage legal and related risk.

Hdeel earned her Juris Doctor from The George Washington University Law School, where she has since 2004 been a Professorial Lecturer in Law and teaches Transactional Islamic Law and a specialized American legal skills course for international graduate students from around the world. Hdeel’s experience teaching non-U.S. lawyers has deepened her ability to connect and work productively with non-U.S. entities and their personnel. 

Hdeel has long served as a leader in the American Bar Association’s Section of International Law, and is currently a Senior Advisor to the ABA’s Middle East Committee, a member of the ABA ROLI Middle East Council, and the ABA’s Liaison to the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts. 

Hdeel’s pro bono and civic engagements have included representing a Washington, D.C. church in securing a commercial mortgage of its building (that included a homeless shelter), serving on the Board of Directors of a DC-based international non-profit that advocates for women’s rights, and spearheading fundraising to finance a significant donation of legal books from Books for Africa to a library in North Africa.

“Hdeel Abdelhady’s standard of work and attention to detail are excellent, resulting in consistent output of very high quality.”

-Senior In-House Counsel, Global Bank

“Hdeel Abdelhady developed a good working relationship with the team in a short period of time which resulted in an open dialogue and free flow of ideas.”

-Senior In-House Counsel, Global Bank

“Hdeel Abdelhady displays an obvious affinity for her clients.”

-Senior In-House Counsel, Global Bank

Current Appointments 

  • Senior Advisor, Middle East Committee, American Bar Association Section of International Law
  • Liaison to the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts, American Bar Association Section of International Law
  • Liaison to The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), American Bar Association Section of International Law
  • Board Member, American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative Middle East and North Africa Council
  • Professorial Lecturer in Law, The George Washington University Law School

Recent Honors 

  • MassPoint PLLC, Corporate Law Firm of the Year, USA 2017, Finance Monthly Global Awards
  • Nominated, Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, 2017.
  • Recognized for Corporate: M&A and Governance, Who’s Who Legal 2016 (client and peer research-based listing of world’s leading  Mergers & Acquisitions and Governance lawyers).

Recently Concluded Appointments 

  • Liaison to the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), American Bar Association Section of International Law
  • Member, World Bank Insolvency and Creditor/Debtor Regimes Task Force
  • Former Co-Chair, ABA Islamic Finance Committee; Former Vice-Chair, ABA Africa Committee
  • District of Columbia
  • Commonwealth of Virginia (associate status)
  • State of Maryland
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

JD, The George Washington University Law School (2002)

Activities and Awards

  • Member, Moot Court Executive Board
  • Chairwoman, Van Vleck Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition
  • “Best Overall Competitor” and “Best Oralist” awards, Van Vleck Constitutional Law Moot Court competition
  • Class of 2002 Clinics Volunteer Service Award (Immigration Clinic)
  • President, Street Law Student Association
  • Law Clerk, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division
  • Judicial Intern, Superior Court of the District of Columbia

BA; Political Science, History (Middle East and Africa), University of Pittsburgh (1997) 

Representative Experience

  • Lead counsel to mid-sized Gulf Cooperation Council-based bank in developing and drafting suite of standard leasing documentation and advising on related matters, such as legally efficacious and cost-effective forum selection provisions and practices to enhance admissibility of documentation, such as through dual language documentation and notarization (where appropriate).
  • Lead counsel to Gulf Cooperation Council-based bank in drafting Islamic lease financing (ijarah) documentation.
  • Provided market-entry and related transactional, compliance and risk management advice to a U.S. company entering the agriculture market in a West African jurisdiction, including on the legal and practical aspects of debt and equity financing; key differences between U.S. and relevant civil law issues, such as related to land rights and taking and perfecting security; and, country and asset-specific legal and political risk and mitigation measures.
  • Lead counsel to lenders, borrowers and arrangers on bilateral, syndicated, multi-jurisdiction and single and multi-currency commercial financing transactions (conventional and Islamic), including structured commodities finance, commercial real estate refinancing, corporate family financing and refinancing, project financing and post-transaction step-in rights, equipment lease financing, real estate development financing, agricultural commodities financing, and import-export financing.

Advised U.S. and foreign banks, companies, sovereign-affiliated entities, money services business, and non-profit organizations on the mechanics of and compliance with U.S./OFAC sanctions programs, U.S. anti-money laundering laws and regulations, and the U.S Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and international anti-corruption standards. Work in this area has included providing advisory analyses, drafting and reviewing compliance programs, and providing compliance training. Relevant regulatory counseling and compliance experience contexts include:

  • Pre-investment or joint venture counter-party, jurisdiction and commercial risk assessment, and
  • Compliance in operating phases, both generally and in response to specific events,
  • Drafting or review of counter-party contractual provisions on AML/CFT, sanctions, and/or AML obligations and compliance.
  • Advised on obtaining (and maintaining) state money services business (money transmitter) licenses and related compliance with applicable FinCEN regulations and registration requirements, FTC Safeguards Rule, OFAC Sanctions, and other legal and practical matters, including drafting AML/CFT and OFAC Sanctions compliance policies for filing, preparing for pre-filing meetings with regulators where appropriate, and navigating the NMLS system (particularly in connection with filings that must be filed directly by principals/contain sensitive financial and other information).
  • Represented and advised parties on de novo bank licensing at the federal and state levels in the United States (as commercial banks and trust companies) and practical steps pertaining to the development of business plans, preparing for pre-filing meetings with regulators, pre-filing self-vetting of control persons and proposed managers, and other steps designed to measure likelihood of success (and avoid surprises) and lesson time and resource expenditures as feasible.
  • Legal counsel, as part of a multi-disciplinary consortium of advisors, to a UAE-based non-governmental organization backed by a regional government and a multilateral development bank, on the selection and establishment of an endowment vehicle and related issues of corporate governance and compliance with relevant regulations and standards, including those applicable to charitable fundraising and funds management, including anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism rules relevant to non-profit fundraising.
  • Advised officials of an interim government of a North African country on investment climate stabilization measures, including integrity in investment administration and dispute avoidance; recovery of assets illicitly obtained by former government officials, particularly obtaining assistance in and from foreign jurisdictions; and, specific strategies for developing specific sectors and assets for economic development.
  • Advised non-profit organizations on corporate governance requirements and best practices designed to enhance governance and effectiveness of boards of directors independently and vis-a-vis other leadership bodies, such as boards of advisors. Advice has included separating, where appropriate, board chair and executive leadership roles where appropriate; proactively tapping into relationship and other resources offered by boards of advisors and other non-profit bodies and drafting strategic plans.
  • Developed, on behalf of a sovereign agency, an Islamic trust (waqf) based agricultural investment blueprint utilizing best practices in asset management and corporate governance and designed to bolster food security and create mutual value for investors, farmers, distributors and other parties in the food supply chain.

Publications/Speaking Engagements