African legal clients are demanding a practice model that is swift, cost-effective and transparent
By Glenda Irvine-Smith*
According to the Director of Business Development & International Relations at Centurion Law Group (https://CenturionLG.com/), and Key Coordinator of the firm’s unique Centurion Plus model, Glenda Irvine-Smith the demand for “agile” local lawyers has risen significantly on the African continent. This is why Centurion has developed its Centurion Plus platform to respond to this need.
Despite numerous global and regional challenges, investment in Africa is predicted to grow in 2020; with African M&A values in 2019 valued at around $13 billion in total, there is a lot to play for on the continent.
To take advantage of this positive investment climate, investors must form close working relationships with the best legal counsel, as well as due diligence experts and local advisors on the ground in Africa, who have specialist knowledge and understanding of the particular commercial challenges within their investment locations.
Investors in Africa must also consider geo-political and economic uncertainty on the continent as well as a plethora of country and region-specific governance, compliance and regulatory challenges when investing in the region.
In order to close deals on the continent, investors need access to the right information and data. The success of a transaction depends on having real knowledge instead of relying on market perception.
Furthermore, investors can never assume one country is the same as any other in Africa. Even if they are geographical neighbours, each country is vastly different to the next. The legal systems in many countries are also changing rapidly, stemming from a desire to encourage foreign investment, but also out of a need to protect the rights and resources of a country and its people.
This is why in Africa, the demand for “agile” local lawyers has risen significantly: African legal clients are demanding a practice model that is swift, cost-effective and transparent. With a cost model that is scaled to the client’s needs and a service model that is tailored to the job. Clients are also looking for non-traditional, outside of the box thinking which can seize opportunities in a way that a one-size-fits-all traditional legal approach cannot.
Centurion Law Group has developed its Centurion Plus platform to respond to this need. The firm believes in providing flexible solutions to clients that address mounting workloads and budgetary constraints. Centurion Plus is a platform which provides on-demand-lawyers that can work with clients on site or remotely, on various flexible models such as secondments, special projects, rotational work or flexible support. Clients also get the benefit of expertise at a far more competitive rate that reflects the significantly lower overhead costs of this model.
Not only does this alternative to orthodox law firms, work for clients; it works for lawyers too. It is certainly a growing trend that instead of working at a law firm, working extremely long hours, and having a portion of your earnings going into the owners’ pockets, you can become a freelance lawyer, working on demand.
So many companies have adopted this design thinking model for the delivery of its legal services – by telling lawyers what, when and how they need their work completed.; This has led to the successful implementation of on-demand-services, dramatically reducing lawyers’ time on transactions, while improving the insight, judgement and predictability of outcomes. Furthermore, “buyers” of legal services are increasingly driven to purchase legal services online, decoupled from traditional institutions, to access quality and convenience without the high costs.
While the concept is not new, this hasn’t been done in the unchartered waters of Africa yet. The challenge for African firms operating platforms like Centurion Plus will revolve around the mindset shift of becoming more process-driven, technology-enabled and delivering quality legal services.
* Glenda Irvine-Smith is the Director of Business Development & International Relations at Centurion Law Group. She is the Key Coordinator of Centurion Plus, where she leverages her network and database of leading African law firms and lawyers to assist large companies with their need to upscale quickly or take on new projects, making use of flexible lawyers and advisors. Glenda has had vast experience in navigating clients accessing Africa through a variety of different models.