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Business Communication for Lawyers: Honing Effective Cross-Cultural Communication Skills

UK Ministry of Justice | Free | Skills Development Series

Course Overview

In our increasingly multicultural and globally connected world, there is immense potential for lawyers to build their practices across jurisdictions, but to do this they need to be able to communicate effectively with people from different cultures. Good cross-cultural communication skills will enhance their relationships with clients and make for improved pan-African connections.

Each culture has varying ideas of how to build long-lasting business relationships, and perceptions of trust, justice and fairness may be different too. Understanding how cultural norms can influence business relationships or negotiations is therefore imperative for growing and internationalising a law firm.

The aim of this course is to develop your understanding of the roles that cross-cultural competence and effective communication play in growing your firm into a truly pan-African, internationalised law firm.

Using professors Bryant and Peters’s work The Five-Habits: Building Cross-Cultural Competence in Lawyers as a foundation, this course is designed to spark curiosity and get participants to engage with a range of issues relevant to developing cultural competencies for cross-cultural lawyers, thus nurturing engaged, non-judgmental inquiry and self-reflection.

Through this course you will:

  • Identify the foundations of cross-cultural competence;
  • Determine the importance of cultural awareness in communicating during complex transactions and disputes;
  • Analyse the impact of cultural differences on the lawyering process and relationships with clients and other firms; and
  • Evaluate your own cross-cultural competencies; and
  • Reflect on the value of pursuing a dual-qualification for growing your firm and practice across borders.

The UK Ministry of Justice is a major government department at the heart of the justice system in the United Kingdom, and the GREAT Legal Services campaign leads our work on promoting UK legal services overseas.

This is the first course offered by the GREAT Legal Services campaign working with Africa Legal, and we want to promote opportunities for collaboration and shared learning between UK legal expertise and our partners in other countries.

To learn more about the GREAT Legal Services campaign, please visit the homepage here. To stay abreast of events and networking opportunities, please follow the GREAT Legal Services LinkedIn page.

Is this course for you?

This course was developed to enhance the communication skills of the modern lawyers by introducing the foundations of cross-cultural communication, encouraging personal reflection on your own cultural competence and your current approaches to communicating with stakeholders. The course is designed for lawyers and legal professionals at any level and the tools, templates, personal reflections, and methodologies are broadly applicable to all lawyers.

Course Contributors

Jennifer Chimanga (née Mbaluto)

Partner and Co-Head of East Africa​ at Clifford Chance

Jennifer Chimanga is a Partner and Co-Head of East Africa at Clifford Chance LLP. Based in London, Jennifer has over 15 years’ experience of advising on cross-border M&A and PE transactions and has a particular focus on Africa and the TMT sector. She is dual-qualified in Kenya and in England & Wales.

Jennifer supports a range of the firm’s pro bono clients including Invictus Games Foundation, Hope and Homes for Children, and International Lawyers for Africa.

Prior to joining Clifford Chance, Jennifer was a senior lawyer at a leading Kenyan law firm where her practice focused on cross-border M&A in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Jennifer is a Trustee on the Board of AMREF Health Africa UK, the UK affiliate of Africa's leading health charity, AMREF Health Africa.

Dr Gabriel A. Onagoruwa

Partner - Olaniwun Ajayi (UK) LLP

Dr. Onagoruwa chairs the Project Development and Finance Practice. He is a highly experienced transactional lawyer who specialises in energy and infrastructure projects in Africa. His practice focuses on advising development finance institutions, national and international oil companies, commercial banks, multilateral lending agencies, sponsors and developers in relation to large-scale project financings, structured finance, investments and acquisitions across the energy, power, renewables, oil and gas including LNG, petrochemical, mining and real estate sectors. He regularly advises on market leading cross-border transactions in these sectors across Africa.

Prior to Olaniwun Ajayi (UK) LLP, Gabriel was at White & Case and has been recognised as a leading individual for finance in emerging markets by Legal500.

Monique Morrison

International Development Manager - Barbri Global

To date, Monique has led in the development of a high calibre network of country representatives and education agents based across the globe. She has worked with undergraduate and postgraduate legal education students for many years while representing The University of Law and BARBRI Global.

This course is certified by the United Kingdom CPD Standards Office, and may be applicable to individuals who are members of, or are associated with, professional bodies. The course carries 1 CPD point.

This course includes:

  • 60 minutes worth of learning with resources for additional study.
  • Discussion forums – meet colleagues from around the world and start to build your professional network.
  • Real-world case scenarios and guided self-reflection exercises.
  • Option to save data – switch off the video and download or read the transcript.
  • Ability to access this self-paced course wherever and whenever it suits you.

  • Frequently Asked Questions:

    What web browser should I use?

    The Open edX platform works best with current versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or with Internet Explorer version 9 and above.
    See our list of supported browsers for the most up-to-date information.

    Who should take this course? 

    This course is aimed at law students, graduates and junior lawyers in Africa.

    How long will it take me to complete the course?

    The course should take you about one hour, not including optional activities, discussions and extra reading materials. Once you are enrolled in the course, you can work through the content at your own pace. Feel free to access any part of the content at any time.

    How do I access the course?

    This course is free to access. To access the course please sign in to Africa-Legal. If you don’t yet have an account with Africa Legal follow the steps to sign up and then press the enrol button.

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