Africa Legal Network offers alternative to outdated ‘imperial’-style City associations

An exclusive network of independent African firms is expanding with a view to offering an alternative to the ’imperial’ model offered by UK-led associations.

The Africa Legal Network (ALN) is made up of 10 firms in eastern and southern Africa and is seeking new members in northern and western Africa.

Former Denton Wilde Sapte and Hunton & Williams partner John Miles claimed the ALN offers an alternative to the Africa strategy of City firms.

“There’s a Dentons or DLA [Piper] model, but that’s what you’d call imperial. Having set up the Dentons Africa group, I think it’s an old model. The whole aim [of those models] is to bring deals back to London and the crumbs remain in Africa. The South African firms are trying to do the same. In this day and age firms want to be independent.”

The ALN receives work from the top 15 firms in the UK as well as South African counterparts, and is ­currently building cross-border teams in international dispute resolution, IP and banking and finance.

Members pitch together and share fee-earning but not profits, which Miles said would never be “on the cards” because of vast differences in legal systems and economies. They also adopt common standards on accounting, time recording and appraisals.