The brainchild of Tim Taylor, a partner at SJ Berwin, the international law firm headquartered in London, ILFA was launched in 2006 and represents an alliance between top UK law firms, world-class academic institutions, local in-country legal committees, and inspirational speakers--all
In 2011, 16 African countries will compete for places on the ILFA programme: Botswana, South Africa, Ghana, Namibia, Tunisia, Nigeria, Uganda, Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
ILFA is a breath of fresh air in international business, a revolution in its own right, as by helping to sharpen the reflexes of African lawyers, it will help the rule of law in Africa to develop and attract international investment to the continent.
"What is unique is that ILFA can be duplicated around the world--ILFA France for Francophone Africa, ILFA Dubai for the Maghreb," said Toyin Ojo, an associate in international arbitration at SJ Berwin and an ILFA director.
Watching the ILFA candidates interact during their time in London, one gets the sense of bold and bright personalities, thinking as a group rather than individually, showing the kind of drive it takes to push things forward, yet with the African touch that runs through the continent.
As Sabrine Makkes, a Tunisian ILFA alumna explained: "One of the challenges was to prove that we lawyers from developing countries are as fully equipped and trained as those in international law firms.
Shaking off biased perceptions of Africa in the international business community was also a challenge noted by Gokulan Thambapilai, an energy lawyer from Namibia who was voted the 2010 ILFA Ambassador.
The exchange of knowledge on the ILFA programme is a win-win process.
With the growth of legal work in Africa, the importance of programmes such as ILFA is undeniable.