Africa-UK training initiative turns to business opportunity for region on the rise

29 Nov, 2012

A UK legal sector initiative aimed at providing training to Africa’s legal stars has so far benefitted 89 lawyers in just six years across the vast continent.


But what began as a corporate social responsibility programme has become a business development vehicle for the UK law firms taking part.


The International Lawyers for Africa (ILFA) initiative is set to mark six years of providing vital training for Africa’s rising legal talent with a gala dinner at the Law Society, one of the key supporters of the initiative. To mark the occasion, the keynote speaker for the dinner will be Fatou Bom Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.


The ILFA sees law firms in England & Wales sponsor the most promising, young African lawyers to come to the UK on a three-month training and placement scheme in English law firms. The objective is to equip African lawyers with skills that build the capacity of the legal sector in their home jurisdictions and thus contribute to the overall economic and social development of Africa.


Nankunda Katangaza, Law Society International Policy Manager and member of the ILFA Board of Directors, said: “The benefits of ILFA have changed as Africa’s individual economies have grown. What began as a corporate social responsibility programme has rapidly turned into a business development initiative. UK law firms are increasingly supporting clients who are investing in Africa and through the ILFA initiative they are able to build relationships with African law firms and governments. ILFA has become a two-way street for the UK and African legal sectors.


“Including this year’s intake, some 89 lawyers from 18 African jurisdictions have participated in the ILFA programme and gone on to create a network across the continent with the ability to refer work across borders and collaborate on multi-jurisdictional deals. In the UK, since its inception, a number of City law firms, barristers’ chambers and multinational companies now get involved in the programme and I expect that will continue.”


Firms and in-house legal teams participating in this years ILFA programme  include Addleshaw Goddard; Allen & Overy; Ashurst; Berwin Leighton Paisner; Clifford Chance; DLA Piper; Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer; Herbert Smith Freehills; Hogan Lovells; Latham & Watkins; Nabarro; Norton Rose; Simmons & Simmons; SJ Berwin; SNR Denton; Slaughter & May; Trinity LLP; Watson Farley & Williams; White & Case; the Commercial Bar Association (COMBAR) and the in-house legal teams of Heinz; Glaxo-Smith Kline; Shell and Diageo.


19 candidates from 12 countries – Botswana, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Senegal, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia are taking part in the 2012 programme.


Find out more about the ILFA at

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