The Origins of Law – As civilizations have evolved over the millennia, our legal systems and institutions have changed with them. Where human society has adapted, so have the legal structures that protect our rights and give us guidance.
The Ten Commandments are essentially a behavioral guide for the betterment and survival of society. The Code of Hammurabi, the Bible, the Quran, the Arthashastra; these texts are the earliest and most fundamental examples of legal codes and the development of law as we know it today. From Ancient Egyptian law and Xeer customary law in the Horn of Africa to the French civil code, British common law and the U.S. Constitution, our systems of legal administration have evolved alongside societies. Today, a complex system of civil, criminal, corporate and other legal codes regulate life and work in modern nations.
It is a process not unlike the evolution of natural life that Charles Darwin discovered in the 19th century on the Beagle voyage. Just as plants and animals have evolved to face the challenges and opportunities that surround them, so have modern legal systems, and the systems of legal interpretation and arbitration that work with them.
The way legal services are offered and the way that lawyers practice law continue to evolve. Today, traditional legal models are being challenged, forcing many firms to adapt and accommodate to a new way of working. This is not a disruption phenomenon; this is a gradual progression that has been taking place for several years – evolution not revolution.
The result is more alternatives. On site or off site. On call and on demand. Clients want to work with multiple models. They want the best of both worlds – a service provider that combines the best of an external law firm and an in-house legal department. High quality at a reasonable price. Flexibility and fidelity. Innovation and tradition under one roof. Lawyers too need more options. They yearn for a better balance between work and life while still getting competitive pay and challenging assignments.
Today this is possible because legal services firms like Imani think beyond labels and models. We did not rewrite the laws of the legal industry, we just found another way to live by them. Our clients want an excellent team of lawyers and more flexibility. We want to serve the needs of our clients. Our lawyers want to excel in their legal professions and have more autonomy. We want to support our team of lawyers and their ambitions. We exemplify the evolution of law and we are at its vanguard in Africa today.
That’s the Imani Way!
On Demand in Africa
Imani is a direct response to the changing legal landscape and the tremendous economic growth opportunities present on the African continent. Corporations in Africa face considerable cost pressures and are seeking affordable representation that does not compromise on the quality of legal counsel. Imani provides a flexible set of solutions that respond quickly and cost effectively to mounting workloads and budgetary constraints. Imani’s lawyers can work with clients on site or remotely, on various flexible models such as secondments, special projects, rotational work or flexible support. It’s expertise without the overheads.
We have created a platform that responds to the evolution in the practice of African law by creating an environment that connects legal professionals seeing a more flexible work routine with businesses that require legal counsel on an intermittent or project basis. Therefore, we provide an agile and flexible legal services offering combines the flexibility of an in-house resource with the support and quality assurance of a major law firm. Our lawyers know and understand Africa and represent the next generation of lawyers who will improve Africa with strong ethics, integrity and quality delivery that competes with Western standards.
New paradigms are never without resistance. And there are very real concerns regarding this model for a law firm of the future. Dispersed law firms lack the reputation and track record of large traditional centralized firms. To a certain extent, a lawyers on demand entity is not strictly a law firm but rather a kind of human resources company focusing on the legal sector. Lawyers are held to the same ethical and professional standards, but the firm itself does not operate under the same rules as a traditional firm. The legal bind, including client/lawyer confidentiality agreements, fees and even practical legal decisions, exists only between the lawyer and the client, with no institutional backing of the lawyer’s performance.
Change is slow to happen. Some clients will be resistant to breaking with the past, especially when the standard of their legal service is on the line. Long-standing agreements between law firms and corporate clients will likely remain unchanged, but it is undeniable that the virtual law firm is competing directly with traditional structures for part of its market. The appeal of lower fees from flexible, project-based, client-focused firms is already resonating with many clients and it will surely appeal to many more in the future. And that’s the Imani Way!
The above is an extract from the Imani Way Report which will be available on the website from 12 April 2016.