ILFA Flagship Secondment Programme
This is an annual international secondment programme where lawyers practising in various African jurisdictions are selected and sponsored on a 3-month secondment (September to December) at highly reputed international law firms and corporations based in London, Paris, Hong Kong and Dubai. ILFA set up national committees in many African countries (comprising senior lawyers, judges and members of law societies), and has been supported by these national committees in the advertisement of the secondment programme and the initial review of applications. The ILFA board selects the successful secondees from a shortlist of applications drawn up by each national committee.
Additionally, the programme provides an academic enrichment series that incorporates training modules on various topics relevant to the African legal sector. A wide variety of practice areas and sectors are covered as part of the training modules which take place in London in the first 2 weeks of the programme before the lawyers then go to the various host cities. Finally, the ILFA lawyers undergo seminars at the prestigious Oxford and Cambridge Universities. The overall objective is to ‘educate, equip and empower’ African lawyers.
Successful secondees receive a fully-funded 3-month placement (between September and December) – the majority of secondees spend their time in London, but in more recent years some also complete their placements in Paris, Dubai and Hong Kong. In the first few weeks of the programme, secondees receive intensive training in many areas including corporate, finance, litigation, and public international law. The remainder of the programme is spent gaining work experience in law firms, chambers, and corporations. Secondees also have the benefit of various networking evenings so they can get to know each other, as well as pre-eminent lawyers, barristers, academics and businessmen and women.
This is all with the aim of equipping the secondees with as much relevant experience as possible such that the secondees can take this experience back to their home jurisdictions. As highlighted above, it is hoped that these highly trained African lawyers will have the skills and experience to deal with complex transaction work within their own countries, therefore retaining the legal fees within their own countries, rather than the work needing to be sent abroad to other lawyers. In 2013 Merger Market recorded around 250 deals with a value of $3B or more where the legal work was led by law firms outside of Africa. This means that legal fees for these deals, which could have been earned within an African jurisdiction and so adding to such jurisdiction’s economy, instead were lost to an overseas firm. Africa is losing out on “indirect compensation” from such deals given that no benefit of the hefty legal fees is felt by the African jurisdiction.
Legal skills and professional development training are an essential part of the secondment programme. Ahead of candidates being placed with host ﬁrms, they are invited to attend a 2-week induction/ advanced skills training which takes place in London. The training is delivered by ILFA in partnership with participating ﬁrms and corporations and several other ILFA advisors. Sessions are a mix of soft skills and technical training which cover a wide range of topics and practice areas relevant to the African legal sector.
Topics vary from year to year but usually include hot topics like:
• Introduction to project ﬁnance
• Improving the investment climate in Africa
• The role of Public-Private Partnerships in African infrastructure development
• Best practice guidance on Oil & Gas projects
• Navigating dispute resolution and regulatory issues in Africa
• Sources of Public International Law
• International Commercial Arbitration
ILFA lawyers attend a two-day academic seminar organised by Oxford and Cambridge Universities. The seminars are coordinated and led by selected members of the ILFA Advisory Board who have affiliations with the universities in conjunction with the law faculties of the two universities.
COMBAR (The Commercial Bar Association) is a long-time supporter of ILFA and offers a series of lectures and “mini-pupillages” to ILFA secondees. COMBAR usually offers pupillage experiences for up to 10 ILFA secondees. This means that secondees will spend 2-3 days (at the end of November) undertaking work experience at various chambers. This opportunity is open to all the ILFA secondees.
Professional Development and Networking
Core of the ILFA programme is the development of intra Africa networks. The programme provides secondees with valuable opportunities to meet, exchange information, and share experiences with lawyers from various African countries. Through conferences, shared accommodation, networking receptions, meetings, and seminars; secondees expand their perspectives on their work, the legal industry and on global issues facing the African continent. The ability to engage with one another as well as with colleagues at work placements and during legal professional events are all key components of these condees enrichment experience thereby ensuring that ILFA delivers both technical and professional development training to its lawyers.
ILFA 2023 Flagship Programme Cohort
Hosted by Clifford Chance
Ayomide is an Associate in the mergers and acquisitions, capital markets and private equity team of Aluko & Oyebode, Nigeria. She is experienced in corporate finance law, particularly equity and debt capital markets, mergers & acquisitions, banking and finance law as well as asset management, investor relations and investment performance monitoring. Over the years, she has garnered considerable experience in advising both domestic and international clients on optimal legal structures for commercial transactions, conducting legal research and drafting legal agreements. She actively negotiates terms of transaction documents and advises clients on the ideal structures for their proposed or ongoing assignments.
Hosted by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Alex is a Ugandan and UK trained corporate and commercial lawyer with over 10 (ten) years of practical experience. Alex’s advisory experience entails commercial and financing deals related to private equity, corporate finance, project finance, mergers and acquisitions, corporate rescue, and restructuring. He has advised local and multinational corporations across the banking, telecom, technology, real estate, pharmaceuticals, hospitality, and agri-business sectors. He is a Co-Founder and Partner at Signum Advocates, a leading law firm in East Africa. As a leader within the Uganda Law Society, Alex spearheaded the establishment of the Law Firm Management Program and the Young Lawyers Mentorship Series, both of which have helped to equip lawyers in Uganda with critical business and career development skills. Alex is a recipient of the prestigious UK Chevening Scholarship and is completing his master’s degree in Banking & Finance Law at Queen Mary University of London
Hosted by Debevoise & Plimpton
Daniel is a partner in the Corporate Commercial Department at Trust Law Chambers in Kigali Rwanda. He is an Advocate/Member of the Bar Association in Rwanda, and the East African Law Society. His current practice includes Capital Markets, Technology Media and Telecommunications, Banking and Finance, Mergers and Acquisitions, as well as Construction Law.
Daniel started his career at Trust Law Chambers in May 2013 as a Junior and later full Associate in the Corporate & Commercial, Finance and Intellectual Property departments, before moving to MTN Rwanda Ltd in 2015 as the Senior Legal and Regulatory Officer. Daniel re-joined Trust Law Chambers in September 2018 on completion of his Msc.
Daniel is passionate about the implementation of clients’ projects and growth of client companies within the best legal structure. His mission is to support clients by ensuring they receive all the legal help and advice that they need to grow bigger and faster.
He holds a Master of Science degree in Law and Finance from Queen Mary University of London and a Bachelor of Laws Degree from Uganda Christian University in 2013. He also holds a Post-Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the Institute of Legal Practice and Development (2015).
Hosted by Norton Rose Fulbright
Kewakebet Girma has over seven years of experience working in an associate and senior associate positions in leading law offices in Ethiopia. She has experience working on employment, immigration, mining, energy and public procurement laws. She has been involved and assisted investors coming to the country investing in various areas focused on the mining and energy sector. Sponsored by Chevening Scholarship, Kewakebet earned her master’s degree from the University of the West of England, Bristol, in International Trade and Economic Law in 2017 with distinction and she received her LL.B. degree from Addis Ababa University, College of Law and Governance Studies in 2014. She is currently a legal director at Ethiopian Investment Holdings, a recently established wholly government owned company with a mandate to co-invest with private investors in strategic sectors and manage state owned enterprises.
Hosted by Trinity LLP
Mitchell Aghatise is a versatile young Nigerian lawyer with extensive experience. He holds an LLB degree from the University of Leicester and an LLM in International Business Law from the London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE). He currently serves as a Senior Associate at Olaniwun Ajayi LP, a leading law firm in Africa, where he specializes in policy reform advisory, drafting strategic economic laws, rendering corporate and project finance advisory, and unravelling complex disputes. He has also been previously seconded to the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA). Mitchell led the team that organized the Africa Business Summit at LSE in 2015, and while a student at the Nigerian Law School, he was awarded with two certificates of recognition for leadership. He has been honored as one of Nigeria's top 40 lawyers under the age of 40 by ESQ (a Nigerian legal publication) and has been acknowledged as a thought leader in Government and Public Policy by Mondaq. With a strong educational background and significant practical expertise, Mitchell has a comprehensive understanding of international business law and the policy architecture required to spur economic growth.
Hosted by Mayer Brown
Noreen is common law qualified lawyer where she routinely uses her knowledge of international best practices and local requirements to provide dispute, corporate, and project advisory services as well as practical legal, technical and commercial solutions to governments, energy and mining companies, businesses, investors and financial institutions in Africa.
Prior to specializing in energy law, Noreen was an astute litigator and represented high profile clients in constitutional and human rights related matters as well as environment and land law cases before both Kenyan and regional courts. She now prefers to assist clients to manage and resolve differences through alternative forms of dispute resolution.
Noreen chairs the board of the Association for Women in Energy and Extractives in Kenya. She is the vice-chair of the International Chamber of Commerce’s Commission on Arbitration and ADR (Kenya) and also sits on the Energy and Infrastructure Taskforce of the American Chamber of Commerce (Kenya). In 2021, Noreen served as the first African appointee to Chartered Institute of Arbitrators’ Young Members Group (YMG) Global Steering Committee. She has also served as board secretary of the Kenya Green Building Society and Africa Regional Representative of the London Court of International Arbitration Young International Arbitrator’s group (LCIA - YIAG).
Noreen was nominated and shortlisted for the 2022 African Legal Awards as one of Africa's Rising Stars in Private Practice and was recently recognised as one of ‘Africa's 30 Most Promising Young Arbitrators’ by the Association of Young Arbitrators.
Hosted by Latham & Watkins.
Twapewa is a Senior Associate at ENSafrica (Africa’s largest law firm) in the Banking and Finance practice. She specialises in debt and equity finance, project finance and related security structures. She also specialises in financial services regulatory work, advising financial services providers and banks on regulatory requirements and assisting in engagements with the regulators (including licencing applications).
She advises both local and international clients in a number of industries and sectors including financial institutions, corporate clients, state-owned entities, insurers, pension funds, mining and energy companies.Her experience includes the drafting, negotiation and implementation of a wide range of financial, commercial and security-related agreements.
She is admitted as a legal practitioner in the High Court of Namibia and holds a B. Juris and LL.B from the University of Namibia and an LL.M in Banking and Finance Law from Queen Mary, University of London.
Twapewa is a member of the International Bar Association (IBA) and is recognised as a leading/recommended lawyer by IFLR1000 Financial and Corporate Guide in the Banking and Finance practice area – 2023, 2022 (Namibia).