ILFA Celebrates Fifth Milestone: An Innovative Model of Legal Cooperation between Africa and the West, Called the International Lawyers for Africa (ILFA), Has Silently but Firmly Been Sweeping across the Corridors of Top International Law Firms for the Past Five Years. It Will Be Taking New Intakes in March, Reports Yoletta Nyange

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THE INTERNATIONAL LAWYERS FOR Africa (ILFA) programme is an award-winning pro-bono initiative that aims to equip African lawyers with additional skills and expertise in areas of international, commercial and corporate law, during a 3-month work placement at Jawlaw firms in London.

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The brainchild of Tim Taylor, a partner at SJ Berwin, the international law firm headquartered in London, ILFA was launched in 2006 and represents an alliance between top UK law firms, world-class academic institutions, local in-country legal committees, and inspirational speakers--all

distinguished individuals who contribute to the project free of charge to strengthen the rule of law in Africa.

In 2011, 16 African countries will compete for places on the ILFA programme: Botswana, South Africa, Ghana, Namibia, Tunisia, Nigeria, Uganda, Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

ILFA is a breath of fresh air in international business, a revolution in its own right, as by helping to sharpen the reflexes of African lawyers, it will help the rule of law in Africa to develop and attract international investment to the continent. Often, the lack of exposure and experience in Africa leads to legal work being done by non-Africans, denying Africans the chance to develop their own jurisdictions. To date nearly 50 African lawyers have benefited from the "ILFA experience". And they form a network across Africa, exchanging knowledge and growing in confidence.

"What is unique is that ILFA can be duplicated around the world--ILFA France for Francophone Africa, ILFA Dubai for the Maghreb," said Toyin Ojo, an associate in international arbitration at SJ Berwin and an ILFA director.

Watching the ILFA candidates interact during their time in London, one gets the sense of bold and bright personalities, thinking as a group rather than individually, showing the kind of drive it takes to push things forward, yet with the African touch that runs through the continent. …

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