Home of the Africa Legal Podcast. Bringing you the right news, views and insights from across the African legal community.
Africa Legal Podcast - Episode 29 - 'Close Connections' with JLA & Abreu Advogados
Mozambique offers investors a wealth of opportunities and in this week’s podcast Africa Legal’s Tom Pearson speaks to two lawyers who understand this unique but largely unknown investment landscape inside and out.
Zara Jamal is a partner with Abreu Advogados and its Mozambican associate firm, JLA Advogados, based in Maputo, while Ana Sofia Batista is a partner with Abreu in Lisbon.
At the recent African Legal Awards JLA Advogados was named African Law Firm of the Year (small firm) – recognition for the incredible work being done in a country that is finding its place on the global stage.
The award has shone a spotlight on a firm where the team is determined to grow – more than half the lawyers are enrolled in master’s programmes for instance. Its relationship with Abreu Advogados is also enabling two-way learning through exchange programmes and a host of other learning opportunities.
Zara’s focus is on the implementation of international business and project finance transactions in Mozambique. These are particularly in banking, insurance, real estate, agriculture and the energy sector. She also has vast experience in Islamic banking and provided services to Murabaha for its first transaction in Mozambique.
Ana’s practice focuses on corporate work and M&A in Portugal. Her expertise is in business restructuring with a focus on corporate structures, contracts and financing. Mozambique has been a country where Ana has been heavily involved in investment operations through providing legal advice.
In the conversation, the lawyers explain how the two law firms are intricately linked. Abreu Advogados has a “Mozambican desk” and, with its strong ties to JLA Advogados, (a relationship that has been cemented over the past decade) offers clients international expertise and on-the-ground local insight.
Zara explains how this collaboration was born out of the two countries' close historic ties and subsequent shared legal background.
“After Mozambican independence in the 1970s the country did not repeal all its legislation – only the legislation that was contrary to the new constitution which means you still have Portuguese diplomas in force in the legal system. This partnership explores these commonalities.”
Ana explains that this shared jurisprudence and the relationship between the firms gives international clients confidence their interests are in knowledgeable hands.
Mozambique is often overlooked by the Anglophone and Francophone investment communities and this conversation gives insight into the world class legal support available in the Lusosphere – including places like Angola, Cape Verde, Macau and Brazil, East Timor and Guinea-Bissau.
Africa Legal Podcast - Episode 28 - 'Results. Not Hours' with Joselynn Fember
If there is one lesson to take away from this podcast interview with South African attorney Joselynn Fember it is: listen.
Listening and patience, coupled with hard work, grit and a staggering intelligence, are what won this 27-year old legal entrepreneur the Partner of the Year Award at the recent African Legal Awards.
It is an affirmation that was completely unexpected, Joselynn says, mostly because she is fairly new in the game and still young. But, what the award recognised is how the legal world is in dramatic transition as lawyers grapple with the “new normal”. Fresh and inspiring ways of addressing old problems and the vibrant and innovative young minds finding solutions are what the judges were looking for.
Joselynn’s ability to absorb the frustrations of her clients and then understand how they can be resolved in the context of the broader traditional legal system is what has set her apart so early on in her career.
The motto of her firm, Fember Attorney’s Incorporated, is “Results. Not Hours”.
Billable hours, she says, are inefficient, punitive and susceptible to abuse and do not serve the best interests of the client.
“Many clients get little or no satisfaction from traditional or and outdated systems of legal practice.
“To enable better access, the firm works to make legal information more available to the public and clients we serve,” she says.
Fember Attorney’s Incorporated’s structure was built around addressing client need with an organised and digitised system of “onboarding” that manages the expectations from the outset.
Joselynn's legal specialities are commercial, criminal and family law. She has assisted multinational companies, handled complex high-profile cases and has been invited to speak on several media platforms to advise on different aspects of the law, including criminal law, child law and business law.
In the interview she tells Africa Legal’s Tom Pearson a little of her own journey to becoming a lawyer as someone from a background hobbled by poverty and alcoholism.
She is the first in her family – including her extended family – to achieve a university degree (from the University of the Witwatersrand) which she funded through part-time work and applying for bursaries.
This is a landmark interview with one of Africa’s emerging legal minds. Joselynn reflects a way of thinking that is building across the continent where lawyers are tenacious, hungry and refuse to accept old ways of doing things.
It is a conversation that will put a spring in the step of all young African lawyers. Her message is clear: challenges are there to be faced head on, obstacles are there to be overcome and no boundary cannot be crossed.
Africa Legal Podcast - Episode 27 - 'Go Far Together' with Alison Diarra
Africa Legal Podcast - Episode 27 - 'Go Far Together' with Alison Diarra by Africa Legal
Africa Legal Podcast - Episode 26 - 'Huggers. Not Hoggers.' with Slaughter and May
This week the Africa Legal Podcast Series is in London for a conversation with one of the doyen’s of African-British legal relationships, Nigel Boardman from Slaughter and May. Joining Nigel is new partner Samay Shah and Justina Omotayo, who leads on development for the firm.
Hearing Nigel speak about his relationship and interactions with some of the great names of post colonial Africa is a lesson in history. This is a legal mind which has been involved in the development of nations and there can be no-one who understands the strengths, weaknesses and astounding potential of Africa better than Nigel. In one anecdote he reminisces about how the new nation of Botswana had its capital in Rustenburg in South Africa because the modern day city of Gaborone was not yet built!
He is quick to point out that the continent is diverse with very different challenges. Slaughter and May’s approach though, he says, has always been to work with the lawyers on the ground and not to open offices and impose the Western way on local people or business. Slaughter and May have a philosophy of encouraging the development of the people they work with, he says, wanting everyone in the team to be strong and to manage the complex needs of the firm’s clients with confidence.
Nigel says the African Continental Free Trade Agreement is a welcome development with far more trade needed between African nations than is currently the case. The colonial powers, he points out, developed plenty of routes to the coast but not enough between nations. Building of trade is a building of wealth, he says, but alongside the strong legal structure that comes with the Free Trade Agreement must come the physical structures.
Samay Shah then joins the conversation explaining that his move to partner had been under the cloud of Covid and travel restrictions but that he is looking forward to building relationships with Africa-based lawyers.
His goal is to deepen relationships and for Slaughter and May to grow with the firms on the ground. Africa, he says, poses novel legal issues that are not encountered in other parts of the world making strong relationships with local law firms imperative.
On a final note Justina Omotayo talks about her special project - Slaughter and May’s Practical and Legal Exchange African Symposium which will take place online on November 26.
“Sadly, this was meant to be our African year,” she says but taking the initiative online will enable delegates to experience different cultures and learn from international and local legal experts.
The theme this year is “Navigating the Crisis” and while the waters are still choppy, markets were righting themselves, she says. The strategic focus of the symposium would be on M&A and look at how companies were recovering.
Africa Legal Podcast - Episode 25 - 'Part of The Client' with KO Associates
This week’s podcast moves back to Kenya with Africa Legal’s Tom Pearson in conversation with the senior partners from Nairobi law firm KO Associates LLP.
KO Associates was named Specialist Law firm of the Year at the African Legal Awards for 2020 and, in this interview, Managing Partner Crispin Odhiambo and Senior Partner Stephen Kiptinness explain how they steered their firm through one of the most challenging times in modern history to achieve this accolade.
Crispin is also the Lead Partner in the Projects, Energy and infrastructure Department as well as the Corporate and Finance department while Stephen is the Lead Partner in the Technology and Intellectual Property Practice.
What sets the firm apart, Stephen says, is how they strive to give clients a small firm feel which means the attention given to any challenge is intensive and focused.
“We look at a problem up, down and sideways – not just from the client’s perspective but from the market perspective,” he says, “eventually we understand the matter as if we are part of the client’s business.” This means the firm is able to offer advisory support that helps a business “move to the next level”.
Crispin elaborates saying that as an African law firm they have to think internationally – or at least regionally – because that is the way their clients are thinking.
“Businesses are wanting to expand their reach. Whereas in the past it was ‘the north’ (Europe, the US and, lately, Asia) looking to come into Africa, this has swung round with African business looking outward.”
Stephen says advances in technology have raised the bar in Africa as local clients demand a higher standard of service – on a par with what they are used to in other markets.
What is also driving this reaching out is the African Continental Free Trade Agreement which was seeing an integration of African markets.
The discussion moves on to cover the impact and subsequent bouncing back from Covid-19 and how Africa is back to business as usual while Europe and Britain are still grappling with the crisis.
Stephen says the pandemic has been an opportunity to take stock and, while businesses “hit pause”, many continued growing but have emerged leaner and, in many instances, more efficient.
Africa Legal Podcast - Episode 24 - 'Learn. Connect. Innovate.' with Legal Innovation & Tech Fest
The Legal Innovation & Tech Fest online is fast approaching (2-4 November 2020).
Africa Legal sat down with the event organiser Eventful People's Head of Content, Andrea Erasmus to learn more about why this is a must-attend event for legal practitioners across Africa.
Those listeners not based in South Africa can register with your the Africa Legal 50% off code (AFRICALEGAL2020) here: https://www.techfestivals.com/legal/tickets/https://www.techfestivals.com/legal/tickets/