We are excited to introduce our new VP of Integration and Business Services. Glenda Benson joins Afriwise with a deep understanding of law and lawyers in Africa. She’s spent the bulk of her career working with African law firms where she focused on business development, client strategy and firm profiling.
Find out more about Glenda and her new role at Afriwise below…
When asked what roused her interest in African law, Glenda explains “I found my niche in business services support for law firms over a decade ago when I met my mentor, a Scottish lawyer with a passion for Africa: what a combination! He introduced me to several senior African lawyers based around the continent. I got to know the lawyers, their firms and came to understand what made these firms tick. Amid extraordinary challenges in-country, these lawyers were putting in a Herculean effort to improve themselves. They wanted to impress clients and do good work for their countries. I was so taken aback by the drive and determination of these lawyers; I knew right there and then that I wanted to be part of their future. I wanted to support them”.
And support them she did! Glenda has worked with lawyers for over a decade on the continent. However, she feels that times are changing. Technology is accelerating change and creating huge opportunity. She explains “I wouldn’t need to do the heavy lifting to help these firms if they could be shown the way with technology. They could commoditise their work, make themselves more efficient and more profitable. When I learnt of how Afriwise was harnessing the power of simple, yet powerful technology, to make working on the continent easier – I had to be part of that”.
Glenda hopes that through her new position at Afriwise she can start to help law firms work together. With over 100 contributing firms in its network and currently the largest collaborative effort ever undertaken in the African professional services sector, Afriwise certainly provides an exciting means to make this happen. She says “for a long time, I have tried to make one firm more competitive than another to increase profile and market share, now I can do that for all firms at once without inherent competition. I believe that we should be working on creating a bigger “pie” of African legal work, not looking to get a bigger slice”.
With law being a notoriously competitive sector in Africa, she has a difficult task ahead. Yet, despite the challenges, in her first 12 months she believes she can start encouraging change in how the legal fraternity views itself – as a community, working together to further regional goals. She notes “I would also like to see the percentage of instructions regarding African legal matters being dealt with by African lawyers increase. If investors can see that Africa is no less unstable than many other investment destinations, that lawyers are capable and credible – then I think we could see the next few years really shape up for our continent”.
Another area in which Glenda would like to make progress is legal training. “I am aware that several firms are trailblazing in this regard, keeping up with requirements to log enough time to get CLD points. I’ve often thought that we could make access to formal and recognised training a lot easier. I do not think any firm on the continent wouldn’t support this. My belief is that lawyers have been so focussed on scaling up their practices and dealing with all the administrative and managerial burdens (which law school doesn’t prep you for) that developing educational programmes sometimes slips down the priority list. Maybe if there was someone independent, central and trusted looking after this, more lawyers would get access to the appropriate resources?”.
When asked how Covid-19 could continue to impact Africa’s legal sector, Glenda acknowledges that the pandemic has affected businesses in terms of turning off work, but like many others she feels it could provide opportunity. “With remote working being the biggest adjustment, I think Africa could be a cost-effective hub for outsourcing work. We have the talent, cities that never sleep and a young and very determined population. Large companies could certainly start to leverage their budgets more efficiently by relying on local law firms to do their work”.
Outside of work, Glenda is home being the proud Mum to two little girls. She jokes “thank goodness I got all my travelling desires out my system before kids, because if Covid didn’t put an end to impromptu and exciting destinations…motherhood did!”
Afriwise is trusted by multiple international firms such as Bolloré, IBM, Deloitte, Barloworld, Vodafone, Roche, DHL, General Electric and MTN and many others that have adopted the solution to streamline their business operations.
To book a demo of the Afriwise platform, get in touch now.
Interested to join Afriwise’s growing ecosystem of lawyers and law firms on the continent? Contact Glenda!