High-quality postgraduate courses such as the LLMs offered by the University of Dundee can heighten legal expertise for African lawyers and, more importantly, boost interpersonal skills that are vital to business, says Mohamed Stevens of the African Legal Support Facility.
“Relationship building and relationships are key to developing and being successful in life,” commented Stevens, an experienced energy lawyer who earned dual LLMs at Dundee’s world-renowned Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy (CEPMLP) before working for Sierra Leone’s Petroleum Directorate.
“I think one of the important things about studying at a multinational institution is the opportunity to learn about different cultures and to build your network,” Stevens added. “You have students from all over the world, all over Africa; being there gave me the opportunity to create relationships with future colleagues who would be leaders in the private and public sectors in their respective fields. That was one of the most rewarding things.”
Having grown up in the United Kingdom but wanting to return to Sierra Leone and contribute to his country’s enormous potential, Stevens was inspired to study an LLM in Petroleum Law and Policy at CEPMLP following a visit to Ghana nearly 16 years ago.
“Ghana had just made an oil and gas discovery and there was a lot of interest. However, I knew very little about oil and gas at the time. A family friend told me there was a lot of interest in Sierra Leone because of the discovery in Ghana, but we were really struggling because we didn’t have people with expertise in petroleum and energy law, specifically. That further fuelled my desire to do a Master’s, because I always had a burning passion to return home and help build my country.”
Stevens chose Dundee due to the high quality of the CEPMLP and its global alumni base. While studying in Scotland, he realised the prevalence of arbitration clauses in mining, oil and gas contracts. He thus added a second LLM in International Dispute Resolution and Management, to ensure that he would fully understand the intricacies of the dispute resolution mechanisms being agreed to by governments.
He says he loved building relationships and feeling that he was becoming part of the global oil and gas and mining family while studying at Dundee. For Stevens, the most challenging aspect was the Scottish weather, which sometimes saw him “ice skating basically to lectures” or bundled up in the IT room overnight during heavy snowfall. “But at the same time, that made the experience much more fun and memorable,” he added with a laugh.
Stevens, who now coordinates and provides legal and technical assistance in the energy and mining sector to governments in his role with the African Legal Support Facility (hosted by the African Development Bank), says studying at Dundee was the foundation for his career.
“It gave me those skills I needed to be critical in my thinking. I enjoyed classes with people from different places, with divergent views. It taught me to think outside the box, see things from different perspectives, and once I started working I channelled all of that.”
To learn more about the University of Dundee’s Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy (CEPMLP) LLM programs, click here.
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