The British Nigeria Law Forum’s Junior Lawyer Division held its launch in London recently where I was privileged to be among the guest speakers. One of the issues I addressed was technology and law.
In parallel to the ongoing legal tech advances in developed markets, something very exciting is happening in African markets with the development and deployment of tech solutions. These are pertinent to young lawyers taking control of their own practice growth and career development.
Much like the skipping of the landline and the charge into ‘mobile money’, entrepreneurs in Africa are bypassing traditional thinking and offering new ideas on how tech can be useful to lawyers and their clients. And, some of these tech solutions are enabling the individual lawyer, outside the giant law firm, to become a serious competitor for clients and work.
Take a look at developers such as Lexware in Zimbabwe who have just launched ‘Law Basket’ as a free-to-access digital marketplace for clients to post work and where lawyers can bid for it. Or Baobab Connect in South Africa, which, at entry level, offers a free-to-use, cloud-based case management system and videos on legal topics.
Now, please excuse the shameless plug, but my own business, Africa Legal, is leading the charge in giving young lawyers access to Pan-African news and jobs to inspire them to think differently and put new roles and opportunities within easy reach rather than relying on tired networks and word-of-mouth.
In addition, we are collaborating with the likes of the University of Cape Town and Uganda’s International Law Institute/African Centre for Legal Excellence to bring accessible and cost-effective learning and training opportunities directly to development-hungry lawyers via their laptops and mobile devices.
These are just a few examples of the easily accessible tech-backed solutions allowing young lawyers to seize the initiative and take control of their own practices, both in existing roles and in creating businesses.
I would add one word of caution around ‘tech exhaustion’. With so much technology being free at the point of entry, I recommend not to always equate ‘free’ with ‘useful’. Instead, spend time thinking about the four major challenges you are facing or could face shortly in your professional career. Seek out specific technology which can deal with these because, the fewer platforms you have to manage the better. This approach motivates best practice by making the most of what you have and being an expert user of a few, extremely useful tools rather than a novice on a bundle of less helpful ones. You wouldn’t see a blacksmith wielding a feather duster along with his trusty hammer just because it was free.
I shall stop here but it is worth dwelling on these small insights. Reach out to Africa Legal directly if you would like to discuss anything further – the team is always happy to chat and discuss opportunities.
About Tom Pearson
After a long stint at ALM Tom is now the Chief Commercial Officer for the Africa Professional Services Group (APSG). APSG owns and operates Africa Legal.
Africa-Legal.com is the first ever integrated online news, jobs and digital learning marketplace for Africa’s legal sector and communities.