Africa Legal recently hosted the first of a series of online workshops, this time focusing on networking and building a name for yourself in the legal fraternity. Kananu Mutea, partner and head of Dispute Resolution at Gikera and Vadgama Advocates (GVA), was one of the panelists at the event. Enabling young lawyers is a personal goal of hers.
“The essence of this journey for me is to remember that we are all in the process of becoming,” Mutea commented. “I think the platform being set up by Africa Legal and the partnerships it is forging across the continent are great opportunities for knowledge transfer. They pass on information readily and allow for improvement in practice in a borderless way.”
GVA has a strong ethos of upskilling associates and Mutea is deliberate in ensuring that this aligns first with individual needs and then those of the business. “We are looking to be part of the Africa Legal community and interact with the members who are already within the community. It’s a two-way approach to contribute and to learn from those we engage with. One of the aspects we discussed during the workshop was the value of relationships – we hope to build on these deliberately.”
Their firm has weekly internal training sessions which feature external speakers and peer to peer learning, and they train with regional “best friend” firms on aspects that cut across borders. “Training is critical to developing legal skills irrespective of the level – partner, associate or trainee. In addition to these, we encourage (and in some cases support) our people to identify opportunities that align with their career aspirations,” Mutea shared.
Munyiva Mbevi, an associate at GVA, attended the inaugural workshop and says the firm encourages young lawyers to invest in independent legal resources, “which demonstrates that the firm is committed to our continued development as legal professionals while maximizing our full potential”.
Similarly, “to help frame the generational divides that lead to misunderstandings between associates and partners, to illuminate the millennial mindset, and to understand how to connect with, motivate, and retain the very best young lawyers, the firm encourages teamwork as one of its TEDD values – team-oriented, excellence-driven, diligent, and dependable,” she said.
“Young lawyers are encouraged to point out potential areas for improvement and inform the partnership. That, in my opinion, demonstrates the firm’s growth-oriented mindset and appreciation for the problem-solving abilities of young lawyers.”
She recalls that on her first day with GVA, one of the partners told her that her training had just begun. “As a young associate, I was eager to put myself out there and the firm was more than willing to nurture this enthusiasm. For instance, during my first year as a practicing lawyer, GVA gave me the opportunity to develop and present a training session for one of its clients: a leading media company.”
Mbevi believes that the ultimate goal for any law firm should be to create a practice where all employees, irrespective of generation, work together efficiently and harmoniously. “Young lawyers should, whenever possible, consider securing a position in a firm whose values are consistent with theirs,” she commented.
“Young lawyers should consider firms whose focus is to inspire associates, embrace the office as a workplace and community center for young lawyers, and reassess how to connect with the youngest generation of lawyers in novel ways,” Mbevi added. “GVA has embraced technology through its practice areas and in the release of podcast series, whose aim is to offer a new method to learn about issues within and outside of the legal profession. Young lawyers should look out for firms that align with the changing times, not just in law reforms but also in technology.”
She noted that GVA is also dedicated to achieving and upholding diversity in all aspects of firm life. “Teams with a variety of perspectives are more creative, wiser in their choices, and produce better outcomes for their clients and the communities in which we live. Young lawyers should seek out law firms that encourage diversity in the workforce because, from my experience at GVA, I have learned that different perspectives foster creativity.”
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