Keeping the Conversation Going

In an international meeting of legal minds, law firm Hogan Lovells is working with its African partners to create content with a local perspective. These collaborations with associates are aimed at developing the existing relationships between the firms and ensuring that this extends to the partners of tomorrow.

The initiative is explained in a podcast* with Hogan Lovells, lawyer Alison Diarra, who oversees the law firm’s relationships across Africa.

Alison said that there are many international law firms working on the continent, but with "very different approaches to how they do business". Hogan Lovells' strategy is not to open more offices but instead to invest in building deep and lasting relationships with leading law firms on the ground; the article series is an example of this.

Hogan Lovells, she explained, bases its Africa practice on four pillars. The firm:

  • Operates in Africa – through its office in Johannesburg, and elsewhere by focusing on deep relationships it has with law firms in "almost every other African country";
  • Invests in Africa – through training, people and resources;
  • Understands Africa – through continuous dialogue, knowledge-sharing and making daily connections based on learning and listening to those on the ground; and
  • Respects Africa – by ensuring the relationship is always a partnership. In addition, the Hogan Lovells Africa practice has a special emphasis on respecting and celebrating arts and culture.

The most recent project is titled "A Local Perspective" and is a series of articles produced in partnership with local firms.

"We have brought in the associates because we want the relationship with our partners to be an ongoing one," Alison explained. Through co-authoring the blog posts the law firm teamed each associate in the local firm with one or two associates in the Hogan Lovells Africa practice team.

So far, three articles have been written – co-authored by associates from Ghana, Kenya and Cameroon.

In the first piece, Ashley Connick from Hogan Lovells in Dubai worked with Theodosia Tandoh from Bentsi-Enchill, Letsa & Ankomah in Ghana to look at how the pandemic had impacted food supply chains in Africa.

Ashley said, "I got involved because the issue of food insecurity across the continent is so important and the problems in the supply chain have only been heightened by this year’s events. It was great to connect with Theodosia and to write with shared passion for this cause. I hope that we’ll be able to write together again, and that we’ll each have deals come across our desks which allow us to work together."

Theodosia added, "It was exciting to work with Ashley on our piece. I gained a considerable amount of experience while working on it. Our article did not only create awareness on food security in Africa during the pandemic, but brought more exposure to myself and Bensti-Enchill, Letsa & Ankomah. I look forward to collaborating with Ashley on other interesting areas in future."

To read this piece, click here.

In the second article, Herbert Mwaura from Kaplan & Stratton Advocates in Kenya worked with Jodie Reindorf from Hogan Lovells in Dubai. They continued the discussion around Africa’s supply chains and examined how it was time to shift to a new way of doing things.

Jodie commented, "As a Ghanaian, I have been keen to learn more about the legal and commercial priorities for nations on the continent. This blog post gave me the opportunity to explore topical issues, which I would not have had the opportunity to do in my usual role. I was excited by the opportunity to partner with Herbert, who is Kenyan qualified, in order to benefit from his on-the-ground insights and expertise."

Herbert added, "Contributing to the A Local Perspective blog series enabled me to showcase opportunities available for various players from a Kenyan perspective vis-à-vis the ongoing efforts in Africa to facilitate a supply chain that will contribute to Africa’s independence from foreign aid. It was also a fantastic experience collaborating with Jodie and the Hogan Lovells team on this project. The knowledge shared while working together was a positive contribution to mine and my firm’s legal practice."

To read the article, click here.

In the most recent collaboration, Brice Tcheuffa from Etah-Nan & Co in Cameroon and Sylvie Simbi Rugabira and Lédéa Sawadogo-Lewis from Hogan Lovells in Paris, discussed the implications of the recent delay in the implementation of AfCFTA, and the potential for Cameroon.

"Although the pandemic has had a negative effect on the implementation of AfCFTA in the immediate, it does paradoxically provide some silver lining in that its postponement is an occasion to fine-tune the national implementation strategy by considering the impact of the crisis and intensifying sensitization of all economic actors."

For Brice, "It was an enriching and valuable experience. Working with the Hogan Lovells team on something else than a transaction was a nice networking opportunity and a good way to tighten the relationship."

Lédéa and Sylvie both agreed, "We personally found this experience rewarding as it enabled us to further strengthen our relationship with local counsel, as well as gain insight into their manner of working. We also thought this was a great profile raising tool for both firms."

To read their thoughts, click here.

As Alison states, despite COVID-19, African law firms and their teams have adapted quickly and well to working in a new way. She adds, "One of the things we have worked hard at is keeping the conversations going...the mutual sharing of both challenges and solutions has been really helpful. For example, we recently spent time with a Kenyan firm to share ideas on a good Return to Office Policy."

It was this kind of open and easy dialogue that enabled everyone to talk through how things could be done; offering different options that suited unique cultural contexts, but always bearing in mind the global picture.

*You can listen to Alison's podcast on Africa Legal's podcast channels on SoundCloud or Spotify

This was first published on Africa Legal:

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