About International Lawyers for Africa
ILFA aims to build legal capacity in Africa by helping to equip African lawyers with additional legal skills and expertise in key areas of public international law, corporate law and international dispute resolution. ILFA is based on the premise that a strong rule of law will encourage international investment in Africa and promote strong and independent institutions which in turn will lead to sustainable economic and social development.
The ILFA model is a simple, unique and innovative concept which has attracted 20 law firms thus far including the entire Magic Circle and beyond. The firms sponsor and share their core business skills with the candidates. The placements offer an annual curriculum of the most relevant parts of the participating law firm's existing training programmes, such as banking, project finance, and capital markets as well as talks and lectures from international lawyers from leading universities and international institutions.
ILFA's seeks to fully utilise the pro bono endeavours of many major firms by asking the law firms to continue to do what they are doing anyway as part of their core business, by sharing their skills more broadly. Thereby providing a "free continuing education" facility for qualified African lawyers.
ILFA grows annually, creating a far reaching legal network capable of providing guidance for anyone seeking commercial legal advice in Africa and preventing the exodus of work from the continent to more established international legal centres. To date 64 African lawyers representing fourteen jurisdictions have participated in the programme.
Participating firms have enhanced their understanding of the needs of their African clients by drawing on the expertise acquired through hosting African lawyers. Our partner firms have also formed lasting relationships with the ILFA candidates' African law firms, which has led to improved referral relationships across the continent.
ILFA has also engaged the interest of multinational corporations with an operational or investment interest in Africa. The programme has been supported by Diageo, Associated British Foods PLC, H.J Heinz, Hewlett Packard and the Commercial Bar Association. Diageo and the Commercial Bar Association also sponsor candidates.
In 2006 in-country committees were formed in 9 African states. In 2010 lawyers from 16 African countries competed for places on the programme, including: Botswana; Cameroon; Ghana; Kenya; Malawi; Namibia; Nigeria; Rwanda; Sierra Leone; South Africa; Sudan; Tanzania; Tunisia; Uganda;. Zambia; and Zimbabwe
ILFA has already had a significant impact in Africa and the UK. The programme's success is not measured only in terms of awards or even its rapid expansion. The most rewarding aspect is the growing network of African lawyers with a common experience - "the ILFA alumni". The dialogue between the alumni and their former hosts illustrates the potential ILFA has to help cultivate a legal community across Africa with the enhanced ability and confidence to compete in the global economy. Lawyers are often the advocates of nations and these African lawyers are the future statesmen and women of Africa. The impact of ILFA is best illustrated by the testimonials received from our alumni and participating firms.