Sub-Saharan Africa is booming and new firms are established. Lassiney Camara, founding partner of CLK avocats, spoke about the specificities of the Ivoirian legal market and how the changes in the economy have impacted its practice.
Leaders League. What are the characteristics of the Ivorian legal market for corporate lawyers?
Lassiney Camara. The legal services are provided primarily by local law firms which focus on national cases. From an investor’s perspective, these firms are essential because they are more aware of risks and opportunities at local and international levels. Broadly speaking, the Ivorian space is still dominated by corporate law firms that were established a long time ago. Our objective is to be perceived as an alternative to these firms.
Leaders League. What is your position in the country’s legal market?
L. C. Our independent firm, a corporate law leader in the Ivory Coast, offers multidisciplinary legal services in corporate law and tax law. We are able to serve the entire Economic Community of West African States within the framework of the OHADA legal system (Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa). We assist companies that are facing problems of an international nature by offering them high-end legal and tax services. We have thorough knowledge of the local legal culture and we know how to combine it with a methodology that includes the best international practices.
Leaders League. How would you define your corporate culture?
L. C. Our concept could be summarized as follows: we provide quality services by
being attentive to client needs. Through our dynamic approach and our commitment to generating innovative solutions, we are able to efficiently structure all of our cases. Our human resources are at the center of our development strategy, and one of the genes that makes up our DNA. With an increasingly- competitive African market, a solid team makes the difference.
Leaders League. What sectors are growing in Central and West Africa?
L. C. The principal sectors that are expected to continue their expansion are: agribusiness, consumer goods, mining, banking and insurance, telecommunications, and construction. The agribusiness industry is expanding rapidly in the Ivory Coast. If the production of palm oil and rubber tree oil was supported by public infrastructure, it could provide a significant economic boost that would encourage private investment. Furthermore, the country has managed to create a more favorable business environment. In its “Doing Business 2014” report, the World Bank ranked the Ivory Coast among the top ten economies that made the most progress in 2013 and 2014. As a case in point, several commercial jurisdictions have set up shop in the country, and a more competitive banking and financial system is developing.
Leaders League. What impact has the arrival of Anglo-Saxon firms had on the market?
L. C. This is not a new phenomenon. These firms were already operating in Africa, either from their headquarters or through local firms. The arrival of major international firms confirms the attractiveness of our financial space. Their presence has contributed to making the environment more competitive and thereby more efficient. At CLK, we work with this in mind in order to offer our clients a customized service.
Leaders League. You recently announced the nomination of a new associate in the firm. What are your growth targets?
L. C. In the Ivory Coast, the new investment code is still the primary contractual framework, in which investors, the state, and its agencies find concrete conditions and arrangements for entering into business. Investors need to have discussions with local firms that have a broad range of skills. In our firm, the academic path, experience in the profession, and recruitment policy follow this dynamic of diversification. The promotion of alternative methods of conflict resolution in the OHADA countries, such as arbitration and mediation, is a project in which we are very interested.