A while back, this Leo shared two events which, in his view, demonstrate a growing and determined interest in Africa's legal services sector. This trend is worth discussing as the mergers or alliances keep on coming (Afro Leo notes the recent report that Hogan Lovells will merge with South Africa's Routledge Modise and another merger involving Eversheds). The essence of this swift commentary is to engender readers (some of whom may well have on the ground knowledge of its true scale)
Curiosity 1: Would African jurisdictions stand to gain something tangible and beneficial in terms of legal/judicial capacity building?
Curiosity 2: Which model is best suited or would be most beneficial for African law firms?
What's in it for IP?
Focusing on Nigeria, Afro-IP is gladly aware that the NBA (Section on Business Law) is interested in IP [see here (no.1), here (no.2), here (no.3) and here (no.4) as reported by fellow blogger, Chijioke Ifeoma Okorie]. (This Leo notes the argument in post no.4 that local law firms do not actually do the heavy lifting when it comes to certain IP work - a subject for another post or discussion) Readers will also remember this piece on African patent firms - in which this Leo briefly commented on the activities of well-known international law firms across Africa in the area of IP law and practice. That piece may go to demonstrate that there is potential in the African market for IP work (albeit currently very little).
Curiosity 3: Do international law firms see a more likely than not potential for huge IP work across Africa in the next decade?
Curiosity 4: What issues are of most concern to African law firms in mergers or alliances?
As economies (including middle-class consumers) continue to grow across Africa, more business opportunities will open up for lawyers in different areas of practice - not just in the typical banking, natural resources or infrastructure. For IP practitioners, the work may arise from the creative, fast-moving consumer goods and pharmaceutical industries. Like the saying often goes in service-based industries: 'We go where our clients go'. For example, well-known global advertising agencies are spreading across Africa. Global law firms are following suit and South Africa leads in terms of first entry in Africa's legal services sector. It seems that some of the global firms still see South Africa as a hub to access other lucrative parts of the continent.
Cautiously and finally, this Leo does not believe that there is a first-mover advantage to be had in the legal services sector - especially on the continent. Rather, there may well be an advantage to be the third or even fourth-mover (if such principle exists anyway). We all know that business is all about accepting risks.
This Little Leo would like to hear from the horse's mouth.
(5) Is this indirect market entry strategy of going into South Africa still relevant today? (Especially, when some South African law firms are equally interested in expanding into other African countries)