The Magazine

Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money—but Mostly Lawyers

Jan 28, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 19
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Last week brought more gruesome headlines from Africa, with a botched raid by the Algerian military to free hostages seized by al Qaeda-linked terrorists at a natural gas plant in the Sahara desert. Meanwhile, French troops in neighboring Mali were encountering better trained and better supplied enemies than anticipated in their offensive against the Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb militants occupying the north of that country. 

So you can imagine The Scrapbook’s relief upon learning that one of the continent’s fundamental problems is being tackled at last. We refer, of course, to Africa’s shortage of lawyers. Thankfully, the American Lawyer is on the case. 

The magazine reports with alarm in its December issue that 

At last count, Ethiopia had 434 lawyers, or about as many as Davis Wright Tremaine. Niger has 77 lawyers, which is fewer than Baker & McKenzie’s 13th-largest office. Both nations have about one lawyer for every 150,000 people. .  .  . To get an idea of how low that figure is, imagine if the United States had to operate its entire legal apparatus with only the 2,100 lawyers who joined the Illinois bar on November 1. 

Yes, imagine! Microsoft’s general counsel “has made legal capacity-building in developing nations a pro bono priority.” Because, he says, “In many countries there are not enough lawyers, and that’s the fundamental problem.” 

Just what Africa needs, we’re sure you’ll agree—more lawyers!

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