American law graduate student Jaimy Leila Rothschild Rippe recognised that, if she was to become the kind of lawyer she imagined herself to be, she had to step outside her comfort zone.
With interests in international business transactions and government relations – specifically related to African countries – she approached firms on the continent to give her the opportunity to gain African experience.
And so, at a time when many Africans are exploring opportunities abroad, Rippe travelled to Ghana completing internships at Nyanfeku Chambers and Bentsi-Enchill Letsa & Ankomah (BELA) from May to August 2019.
At Nyanfeku Chambers in Kumasi she says she was exposed to small business representation, foreign entity contracts, trade regulations, commercial land disputes, personal injury claims, bank governance, and dispute resolution.
Following this, she moved to BELA.
“When I found Bentsi-Enchill Letsa & Ankomah I knew this was where I wanted to intern. The practice is unique, highly reputable, and modern.”
Here she was assigned to the Financial Institutions and Capital Markets (FICM) practice under the leadership of Seth Asante and Frank Nimako Akowuah.
“I gained meaningful experience from researching and presenting findings on business opportunities for US companies in Ghana. I was also exposed to Ghanaian company and trade legislation.”
As part of her long-term career plans, Rippe would like to represent and consult with African businesses in their dealings with US companies.
After she finally qualifies in the US, she intends to be licensed in multiple jurisdictions and study post-call in Ghana or Nigeria, depending on the prospects.
Rippe is now back in the US as a second-year Juris Doctor candidate at Quinnipiac University School of Law in Connecticut.
“My interests in the developmental issues affecting Africa stemmed from more than my pre-established adoration for its many riches. I have worked on research regarding indigenous people’s rights since I was in university and I felt refocusing my studies to connect with my interest in Africa was essential to building a deeper understanding,” Rippe says.
Rippe holds executive board positions on the Asian Pacific American Law Students’ Association, Black Law Students’ Associations and the International Human Rights Society.
“I intend to be a ‘whole lawyer’, one with an apt understanding of the law but with heart,” she says. Through her various extracurricular roles, she has helped develop some major concepts and programmes, chiefly the Pipeline Initiative.
“This is where we work to provide adequate and effective support for students of colour, along with students from low-income, disadvantaged backgrounds – especially females – with professional networking, employment, educational, and social building opportunities on their journey to and through law school.”
Rippe intends to return to Africa from May to August 2020 for another internship.She remains particularly interested in gaining commercial and company law experience this time in East Africa.