You Need Good Local Counsel, But Where Should You Start?

{4 minutes to read} As discussed in our previous blog article, protecting one’s interests in African jurisdictions requires guidance from well-vetted local counsel. In jurisdictions where the approach to legal issues is more informal, it is important to retain local counsel that are well-informed, trustworthy, and familiar with the terrain.

Determining whether local counsel is a good fit for your business interests requires insight into several areas.

Obviously, you need to know that local counsel is good. You want to determine that local counsel has relevant experience to your matter and a solid reputation. They should:

  • Be responsive, treating your matter as a top priority;
  • Produce work of a high caliber;
  • Exhibit good billing judgment; and
  • Work efficiently.

If local counsel is abroad and you won’t be meeting with them regularly, bear in mind that there are often times when local counsel will be required to meet or connect with local government officials or representatives. If this is the case, clients often (rightfully) have concerns about their business being represented by an individualthat being local counselwho is not part of the business.

Conceivably, local counsel may be responsible for that business’s first impression on a government agency that will play a significant role in a business’s activities. It is important to find local counsel that understands the significance of that dynamic. In cases where it is inevitable for local counsel to represent your business before government officials, you want to know that they can properly appreciate that and navigate the situation.

It’s also very important to find local counsel that, basically, will keep you from going to jail. They understand how corruption is viewed in the client’s home country.  that can be paid on home soil if corruption occurs in the local African jurisdiction, even though such corruption may be viewed as a normal part of doing business locally. (See the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the UK Bribery Act 2010).

So why not find your own local counsel in the African jurisdiction rather than going through another law firm?

We, as lawyers, speak the legalese. We are well positioned to understand the client’s business and effectively translate it to local counsel. We’re familiar with doing business in the African context as well as in non-African contexts, like in most of the U.S., Canada, and the Middle East. Our ability to effectively navigate cultural interfaces is what sets us apart. And those cultural interfaces can be a huge determinant to whether or not business is successful.

This is particularly important in informal societies in which relationships are the drivers of getting business done. We work with local counsel. We have proven, better relationships on which our clients can rely. In other words, we handle the homework. We’ve done all the vetting. We take care of ensuring local counsel can represent you properly while you handle the business itself.

Scotch and Palm has a network of local counselors spanning the continent. This makes us agile and responsive to clients’ needs. If you need assistance in this area, contact us.

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