City firms to share international expertise with African lawyers

International Lawyers for Africa (ILFA) is preparing for its first intake of African lawyers, with City firms Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance and Linklaters all involved in the project.

Launched in March 2006, the ILFA project aims to give lawyers from Africa a grounding in specialist skills for international lawyers.

This will allow them to better advise on issues pertinent to developing countries, such as debt relief and the environment, and to develop insights into the workings of international institutions such as the World Bank.

The idea is the brainchild of SJ Berwin litigation partner Tim Taylor. Taylor said: “The average punter doesn’t see what lawyers have to do with development, but international lawyers are integral to it – they’re the spokespeople in international dialogue.”

ILFA provides placements in major law firms for candidates drawn from African nations. Approximately 20 African lawyers a year will undertake three-month ‘compressed training contracts’ beginning in September, with seats including banking, project finance and capital markets.

Placements are offered through an in-country competitive programme. Other firms offering them include Baker & McKenzie, Berwin Leighton Paisner, Denton Wilde Sapte, Eversheds, Herbert Smith, Kendall Freeman, Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw, McDermott Will & Emery, Nabarro Nathanson, Olswang, SJ Berwin and Travers Smith.