Professional Purpose Statement

Legal Structures and the Rule of Law Delegation  

Delegation Leader:  Mr. Richard Pena


A delegation  of  US legal professionals, representing multiple professional fields, from the United States will visit the United Arab Emirates for the purpose of meeting with professional counterparts, academics, and government officials.  The delegation will arrive on February 25, 2023, visiting Dubai and Abu Dhabi, departing on March 3rd.  

This  delegation  will be administered by the Citizen Ambassador Program.  The leadership team of the Citizen Ambassador Program has administered high-level professional exchanges for over 35 years.  Citizen Ambassadors is a program of Cultural Vistas, a US non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Washington DC. 

Our primary objective for this delegation is to meet with UAE legal professionals, academics, and officials to gain an understanding to the UAE Legal structure, explore judiciary processes and the  C3 court system.  The delegation looks to learn how Islamic principles impact social laws and the how cultural variances amongst the individual emirates are address in the laws and execution of the legal system.

The delegation will accomplish this objective through meetings with Ministry of Justice representatives to develop a foundational understanding of the UAE constitution and legal processes, to meet with academic to learn how the rule of law has evolved in the UAE, meet with UAE Lawyers and Judges to explore the practice of law in the UAE, and observe the C3 court system in practice.

The topics of discussion for this exchange are:

  • What is the legal system in UAB, including customs of the civil code and sharia principles?
  • UAB’s novel C3 courts which reduces the time of litigation to 30 days instead of 305 days.
  • Efficiencies in the legal system that streamline settling disputes.
  • Role of women in the legal system.
  • Legal Ethics, accreditation, and law schools.
  • Similarities and differences with western legal systems, especially that of the United States.
  • International treaties with the Unities and other Arab countries.
  • Legal protections for citizens and ex-patriots living in UAB.

Richard Pena will lead the Legal Structures and Rule of Law delegation to the United Arab Emirates.

Richard Pena, Delegation Leader

Richard Pena was elected by his peers to serve as the President of the State Bar of Texas from 1998-1999. He served as President of the American Bar Foundation and was on the Board of Governors for the American Bar Association. He is also past president of the Travis County Bar Association, former Chair of the Texas Bar Foundation, and former Chair of the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation. He was a director to the State Bar of Texas and a State Delegate to the ABA. Richard has received three Presidential Citations from the State Bar of Texas for his meritorious service to the profession and has been selected a member of the prestigious American Inns of Court as well as receiving the Distinguished Lawyer Award presented by the Austin Bar Association in 2007. The Texas Bar Journal recognized him as 1 of 20 “trailblazers” in the February 2014 issue. He also was the recipient of the 2010 Difference Makers Award presented by the ABA General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division. In early 2020, Richard received the Spirit of Excellence Award in the ABA Commission on racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession.  

Richard is a national leader in the legal field, and is active in the American Bar Association, where he led the Texas Delegation to the ABA. He has also been active in the American Bar Foundation, where he was previously on the Board of Directors. He served as Chair of the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation, which is the preeminent attorney group in the country with membership limited to one third of one percent (1/3 of 1%) of the lawyers in America. Richard has been on the Advisory Board of People to People Ambassadors Program and has led Delegations of Texas and U.S. Lawyers to numerous countries including, Turkey, South Africa, China, Tibet, Cuba, Vietnam, Cambodia, Egypt, India, Israel, and Brazil. He was also Chair of a U.S.-Russian Joint Conference on the Rule of Law in St. Petersburg, Russia.  In 2006 he received the Eisenhower Achievement Award from the program for being an outstanding leader.