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Opinion: The need for a cross-border legal practice in Africa - FurtherAfrica
AfCFTA Africa Legislation Opinion

Opinion: The need for a cross-border legal practice in Africa

Generally speaking, the word “cross-border” is defined as an activity as between more than two countries, or linking people from different countries. The term, when connected to the legal profession, associates to the provision of legal services between the two states i.e. beyond the state borders of the lawyer’s own state.

In its traditional sense, lawyers practice restricted exclusively in their own country where they are licensed to practice the legal profession. In other words, most lawyers, specifically in Africa, are single jurisdictional. Recently, however, with the introduction of globalization, there has been a move from practicing the law solely in their particular jurisprudence to the increase in cross-border performance and transaction.

The rising economic incorporation requires this shift which leads to larger mobility of lawyers in cross-border law practice. There are a variety of factors which lead to the increase of cross-border law practice, involving but not limited to the following:

  • Speedy growth of law firms;
  • Changing of regional economic activities;
  • Materialization of new practice areas that includes project finance, capital market, and private equity;
  • Emergence of internet age and online platforms; and
  • Needs and demands of internationalized clients

The ongoing increase in the size of cross-border law practice is a result of the 20th century globalization situation. It has fueled an enormous boost in the possible for exchange of services and goods. A growing need for the legal norms contributes to the development of cross-border law practice thinking.

Of course, this type of transform started in the 1990s where multinational companies emerged with major technology based companies emerged with the application of internet. The Cross-Border law practice is, therefore, the practice of counseling clients on their local and foreign based transactions in connection to transnational deals. As a result of the change of very advanced technology, firms witness different threat to their relationships if they did not react to the dynamic need of clients.

This position is also a great opportunity for law firms in Africa to go after their international clients from around the globe that has given recognition to the transnational lawyer and international law firms.

  • We can’t ignore globalization and we need to address this inevitable matter in the legal profession as well.
  • Africa needs to grasp all opportunities on the table and utilize all available opportunities in order to broaden possibility.
  • African legal profession shall invest in efforts to join forces with transnational business players and earn their trust
  • African states must have the courage to take calculated risks and progresses in both local, regional and global laws.
  • Professional associations shall be realistic and take appropriate action plans to realize these dreams;

To conclude, the need for cross-border legal practice is almost a mandatory situation as far as Africa is on the way to synchronize continental efforts with the globalized business models.

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