Moyo, the senior partner and chairman of Scanlen & Holderness in Harare, has taken office as president of the 80,000-strong International Bar Association, (IBA) perhaps the best-known global networking association for lawyers, founded in 1947. He succeeds Brazilian lawyer, Horacio Bernardes Neto.
Moyo, who has held a wide variety of management roles within the IBA, including chairing its Africa Forum, has also acted as a trustee of IBA-established entities, such as the Southern Africa Litigation Centre. He has also been active in a number of professional task forces, such as that on illicit financial flows, poverty and human rights, an issue which will resonate with African lawyers addressing such issues.
He is a co-chair of the IBA’s Human Rights Institute, which has commented on rule of law issues across Africa, and speaks regularly at conferences, most recently at the IBA’s own virtual annual meeting.
Moyo brings to the role his past leadership experience as president of both the Law Society of Zimbabwe and the Southern African Development Community Lawyers' Association, and strong business skills, as senior partner of one of Zimbabwe’s oldest law firms. Scanlen & Holderness is primarily a corporate law firm, with Moyo specialising in corporate and commercial law, as well as assisting mining, infrastructure, and related financial services clients, as well as extractive resources like water and power.
Recognising the benefit of legal networks – his firm helped found LEX Africa and is a member of Meritas – Moyo hailed the “great and visionary leadership that conceived and implemented the idea of the IBA”, in spelling out its benefits for bar associations and members both, including capacity building, professional development, human rights, and supporting both access to, and the administration of justice, as well as innovative practice area collaborations.
Praising his predecessors, Moyo said he aimed to build on Bernardes Neto’s work, in “deepening the fulfilment of the objectives of our association and increasing diversity, eliminating all forms of discrimination in the practice of law and administration of justice”.
Moyo, together with IBA officers and staff, including IBA secretary-general, Mark Ellis, will aim to execute a demanding agenda for his two-year term; but he must also steer the organisation through challenging times.
Not only must the IBA manage the consequences of the coronavirus, which saw it postpone its 2020 annual conference in Miami, but it has also had to translate its popular events programme into virtual form.
This, by common consent, was largely achieved by its “Virtually Together” series of events, at which Moyo spoke; the 2021 annual conference is scheduled for Paris in October 2021 – pandemic restrictions permitting. That, for African lawyers, particularly Francophone ones, will be a popular destination – if they can travel.
In the meantime, Moyo will have policy drivers to implement, many of which will resonate with African lawyers, such as developing effective anti-corruption strategies, while encouraging the IBA’s many committees to provide ‘role model’ material to improve the practical exercise of law.
One area which will interest commercial law firms will be updating guidance for the extractive industries, in an attempt to ensure that current strategies meet investor protection needs, while meeting the developmental rights of communities where investments take place.
Balancing those competing demands will take political finesse, as well as Moyo’s skills in assembling interest groups across the legal spectrum which are not always known for close collaboration. Other ambitions look to cyber security, in setting up best practice guidelines for a framework that balances the roles and responsibilities of public bodies and private business.
The IBA’s digital resources, too, will be enabled to benefit lawyers, including in Africa, whose bar associations may struggle to access them. The opportunities that online training, development, and networking present are ones Africa Legal espouses in its own work; so such initiatives are to be welcomed.
Such support will also benefit lawyers who hail from lower-income jurisdictions, such as those in Africa whose bar associations have historically suffered from under-investment, and younger lawyers, who need such resources to start up in practice.
Moyo’s agenda compares well with previous initiatives, such as a compelling, if challenging, report on harassment and bullying in law firms in 2019 or a 2017 joint OECD-IBA task force to develop standards and guidance to help trade lawyers’ combat corruption. He is liked and respected by many IBA councillors, and has a firm bedrock of member support, especially from Africans. He should be supported.
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