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Overview of legal recruitment in Africa

Posted by: Laurence Simons 22/04/13

Legal Recruitment in Africa

Africa remains a developing market for many multinationals and despite the challenging and diverse environment, is increasingly becoming a focus for those looking to expand and capitalise from the growth being experienced across the continent.

This expansion has undoubtedly fuelled the demand for high calibre lawyers and compliance professionals with many businesses viewing such appointments as paramount criteria in their business risk strategy. This is particularly the case due to the far reaching FCPA and the UK anti-bribery legislation as well as the perception that Africa is generally a corruption hotspot.

The legal recruitment market in Africa is localised in nature, certainly at the mid-level. The talent pool in pockets of Africa (e.g. Nigeria, Kenya) is of a high calibre and it is not uncommon for legal professionals to be qualified not only in their local jurisdiction but also have university and professional qualifications from the US, UK or Europe. As a consequence companies operating across the continent rarely have to source talent from outside the African boarders. The insular nature of these markets has resulted in an increase in competition when seeking a new opportunity, and the only international / cross border moves consistently seen have been at the senior level for regional lead positions.

It is anticipated that recruitment levels in Africa will continue in the same fashion as 2012, with many companies and firms expecting expansion in 2013, albeit cautious expansion with an increased emphasis on control mechanisms being put in place. This of course is positive for lawyers and compliance professionals operating in Africa as there is likely to be an increase in the number of opportunities available to them.

Legal Recruitment in North Africa

2012 was a challenging and at times turbulent year across North Africa but surprisingly the legal recruitment market remained steady. Particular buoyancy was experienced across Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Libya (to an extent) predominantly in the healthcare, technology and energy sectors. Due to the political turbulence being experienced in Egypt, recruitment levels across this region slowed during 2012.

The Maghreb region has become a focal point of growth for multinationals, resulting in an increase of senior level in-house roles being recruited and as companies compete to secure talent across the region, salaries have become increasingly competitive. Furthermore, as legal teams develop, there has been a shift from country specific appointments to more regional roles being recruited.

Legal recruitment in Sub-saharan Africa

Legal Recruitment in sub-Saharan Africa continued to develop with noteworthy levels of activity in Nigeria, Angola, Kenya and South Africa, particularly at the mid and senior levels. The energy and technology sectors have demonstrated significant growth with multinationals expanding their in-house legal teams and similarly to North Africa, increasing the need for roles with regional scope. Outside of South Africa in locations such as Nigeria, Kenya and Angola, multinationals have been willing to pay significantly more for candidates from the top local private practice firms. On occasions this has equated to double their existing salaries and certainly illustrates that the war for talent is rife. The global trend for compliance professionals continues in sub-Saharan Africa, with these professionals reaching compensation levels similar to lawyers with the same level of experience.