Paul is a Principal and Legal Consultant, based in our Dubai office. He is qualified in both Science and the Law and his practice focuses primarily on patent matters - both portfolio management, including the drafting of patent specifications, and patent litigation.
There are people who seem to have been born with an innate curiosity; driven to discover how things work, interested in just about everything. Paul is one of them. It was probably inevitable that his career path would involve several twists and turns along the way - and it shouldn’t be surprising that it has ultimately led to his current position as a patent lawyer and qualified Patent Attorney. He is in his element mastering the many and varied inventions of his clients, and working out how best to protect them.
It is perhaps surprising, however, that Paul actually decided very early on that combining science and law as a patent lawyer would be the ideal career for him. Often science graduates aren’t even aware of that possibility, but Paul was still a second-year student when he made that decision. As part of his science course, he had been required to do one humanities subject and he had chosen law. He really enjoyed it and almost immediately saw the possibility of pursuing a profession that would combine science and law – just that he discovered there were other worlds to explore along the way.
He obtained his Bachelor of Science (Life Science) degree from the University of Witwatersrand –commonly referred to as ‘Wits’- in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he had grown up with his family. His father, half Greek and half French, had grown up in Egypt and experienced the Second World War at close quarters. After that, he was keen to leave Europe for good and decided to immigrate to South Africa and start a new life. It seemed to him a place full of opportunity and promise. He strongly encouraged both his children, Paul and his younger brother Andre to study for a profession – which they both did. Andre became an Electrical Engineer and now lives in Toronto in Canada and works as a software developer.
By the time Paul went to King Edward VII high school in Johannesburg, one of South Africa’s top public secondary schools, he had begun to develop a keen interest in computer programming. At the time, personal computers were just starting to make their appearance and Paul’s curiosity was immediately aroused. He was enthralled, driven to finding out as much as he could about how they worked, and spending every available minute doing it. He wasn’t particularly interested in Maths at school, but from the age of about 13, he became absorbed in computer programming, teaching himself from books –at the time, it was the only way to do it. There was no real appreciation then of how important computers would be in the future, and certainly no thought of a profession in the world of computers. So Paul studied for a Science degree, focusing on Life Sciences. Later, having developed an interest in the Law, he began studying Law by correspondence full-time at the University of South Africa for two years until he found articles and could work while studying part time.
When he graduated, however, at the age of about 26 , instead of continuing with law, he made a dramatic career change. It was a decision arrived at partly because he was by then married with a young family and impatient at the rate of progress he could expect in a law firm; partly because he was keen to pursue an opportunity that had arisen in the business world. It was a brave step, but for the next ten years, he ran his own businesses, one of which ended up as one of the top ten wholesale frozen food distributors in the country (for a specific national brand). It was a challenging and exciting time and an invaluable experience, but after ten years the business environment was changing and Paul was beginning to think of other options, including returning to his early plans to be a patent lawyer. So, at the age of 36, he changed course once again and got a job with a Johannesburg patent attorney firm where he spent the next two years working and studying part time for the Patent Attorney exams (which takes three to four years).
Two years after joining the Johannesburg patent attorney firm, he accepted a position with the Cape Town branch of the leading African law firm Adams & Adams. This was a great opportunity and he relocated his family to Cape Town where they spent the next seven years. At Adams & Adams Paul worked on a wide range of Intellectual Property issues. At that point, interesting as the work was, he was beginning to feel that the opportunities for further development were limited. So when an opportunity to join Rouse’s Dubai office presented itself, he jumped at it. In addition to the opportunity for professional development that it represented, there was the attraction of living in a place like Dubai instead of a dangerous country like South Africa, where the level of crime is high and there is always an undercurrent of anxiety. From both points of view, it has fulfilled his expectations. Paul, his wife Sonya of twenty-six years, and their daughter Genevieve are all enjoying life in Dubai - Genevieve is currently completing her master’s degree in psychology. Unfortunately, Paul’s son, Lance, could not accompany them to Dubai as he had already established a very successful security business in Cape Town.
You might think Paul would get enough stimulation working with clients on their new and varied projects, something he loves doing, but seven years ago his early passion for computing was re-kindled; he began to be intrigued by trading bots and automated algorithmic trading and wanted to learn all he could about them, which he set out to do. Algorithmic trading uses computers to buy and sell forex automatically, without any human intervention, based on specific trading algorithms. Paul took part-time courses on statistics; quantitative trading; Python programming and C++ programming, in order to learn how to design and build automated trading bots. It is complex and difficult, but just the sort of challenge Paul finds inspiring and exciting. He obviously learnt well: for the last few years the computer’s trading has been very profitable - far better than manual trading, which he now never does. His Python programming skill led him to his next and current passion: Artificial Intelligence, which is heavily reliant on Python. Currently Paul devotes his spare time to learning to program Python applications that interface with GPT4 to automate tasks such as summarization; question answering from long documents; structured and unstructured data extraction and analysis and other forms of work and office automation.
Paul’s curiosity and enthusiasms show no signs of diminishing and probably never will. It’s just the way he is. They may have ensured that his career path would not follow a straight line, but they have been enormously valuable, both to him as a person and to his professional capabilities.