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Efficient Cooperation Between Companies And external Law Firms

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The corona pandemic is causing turmoil worldwide and has had a massive impact on economic activity.

Internal legal departments are therefore facing new challenges. On the one hand, companies are cutting their budgets for legal services, and on the other hand, the complexity and amount of legal issues is increasing.

In-house lawyers have to minimize their costs while also reducing the work pressure on their teams.

Especially in times of crisis, legal departments question their cooperation with external law firms and look for flexible, efficient and timely solutions for legal issues.

In the following, we will discuss the criteria companies might use to select external legal advisors, how outsourcing of legal services can be more cost-efficient and how corporate lawyers and law firms are developing a common agenda.

Changes on the corporate side

In general, the last few years have seen an increase in legal work and complex new issues for in-house counsel.

This is mainly due to general corporate growth. In order to deal with this additional workload, corporate lawyers rely on the in-depth expertise of external law firms.

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that companies are now under even greater pressure to deal with growing legal risks while at the same time increasing their efficiency.

Complex legal requirements also stress the need for legal advice.

The constantly increasing cost pressure within companies requires effective cost management when hiring external law firms.

This means that legal departments have to deliver a higher performance with reduced budgets.

Law firms are therefore challenged to produce better, faster and cheaper solutions to complex legal issues.

In order to achieve this, legal departments are forced to constantly optimize their operational framework when cooperating with law firms.

As a result, the purchasing departments of large companies have recently been more involved in the processes of cooperation with external law firms.

They support the General Counsel in operational tasks such as the selection and purchase of legal services as well as the subsequent management of the commissioned law firms.

Overall, these processes have become more professional, as companies have become more demanding and attach great importance to increased efficiency.

The higher expectations towards external legal services are mainly a result of the positioning of the General Counsel within the company.

His role has continuously gained in importance, as he reports directly to the management and is seen as a businessman with legal expertise.

In addition to legal assessment, he is also expected to make economic decisions.

One of his numerous tasks is to increase the efficiency of the legal department and at the same time minimize the costs of external legal services.

Selection criteria of companies 

The procurement of legal services by companies has changed in various ways in recent years and will probably continue to do so.

In particular, the selection process has become more differentiated and professional.

Companies not only select on the basis of professional competence, reference, recommendation and reputation but also include many other service criteria in their decision such as communication skills, soft skills and the use of project management expertise.

Companies attach great importance to continuous training in these areas.

Additionally, they expect law firms to integrate their knowledge in these areas into their daily work while collaborating with companies in order to deliver the best possible result for the client.

The use of new technologies, such as legal tech tools, to increase efficiency is also very welcomed by companies.

In addition, it is especially important for internationally operating companies that the firm brings global expertise and recognizes economic connections between several countries.

In the context of selecting a law firm, many General Counsel emphasize that the diversity factor in terms of cultural diversity and gender as well as the issue of ethical standards also play a major role.

In general, other criteria such as creativity in the context of alternative legal solutions and flexibility in dealing with short-term problems are also important when selecting external legal advice.

Cost-efficient outsourcing of legal services 

The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the pressure on corporate legal departments to offer external mandates at lower costs while maintaining high quality.

In addition to the selection criteria explained above, the core aspect of mandate allocation is the remuneration for legal services, as legal departments are increasingly struggling with budget cuts on the one hand and increased demand for legal expertise within the company on the other hand.

For this reason, companies are increasingly preferring alternative remuneration methods such as installments, fixed flat rates per project or per month for legal work. These billing models give companies greater planning security.

Often these offers are more favorable than billing via hourly fees.

The preliminary cost estimate varies depending on the volume of the assignment and is worked out in a dialogue between the company and the law firm.

In many companies, the purchasing department is involved in these rate negotiations, the scheduling of projects and invoicing.

The purchasing department also supports the general counsel in controlling the projects and monitoring the costs.

For law firms it is important that the task descriptions and the project volume are clearly defined by the company in order to provide a realistic cost estimate.

This enables external legal advisors to calculate more accurately even for complex mandates, which increases overall efficiency and benefits both sides.

Expectation management 

During the cooperation between the internal legal department and the external law firm, a common agenda, a constant exchange and a clearly communicated expectation management is important.

Even before the start of the project, the company must express its ideas about the handling process, reaction times and the urgency of its request and, above all, clearly state its expectations to the external consultants.

The respective contact persons and representatives are also determined in advance to ensure transparency with regard to the responsibilities and organizational structures on the firm as well as the company side.

During the collaboration process, constant communication between the two parties is important.

This can be ensured by means of fixed jour fixe appointments. Effective communication also includes continuous updates on workload and project progress. Companies also expect external lawyers to proactively provide their clients with additional information on relevant legal issues beyond the project.

With these or similar initiatives, external consultants can secure long-term cooperation. A regular evaluation of the cooperation leads to a more efficient work process, which provides added value for both the company and the external consultants.

In conclusion, it can be said that incentives for working as efficiently as possible are provided, especially in the case of performance-related remuneration or installment payments per project phase.

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Airtel Rwanda Partners With Canal+ To Ease Payment Of Subscription Fees Via Airtel Money

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Airtel Rwanda and Canal+ Rwanda have launched a partnership, enabling customers to easily make subscription payments.

The partnership announced at a joint press conference today provides clients of both CANAL+ and Airtel a simpler, instant and secure payments method using Airtel Money.

CANAL+ Rwanda is the subsidiary of CANAL+INTERNATIONAL, TV operator by satellite in Africa and present in over  25 African countries.

CANAL+ Rwanda have a trilingual package with 200 channels in French, Kinyarwanda and English and it offers accessible bouquet starting from 5,000 Francs with a distribution network throughout the country.

Speaking at the launch event, Airtel Rwanda Managing Director, Mr. Emmanuel Hamez said “We are delighted to launch this new service on our Airtel Money platform we welcome all Canal+ customers to enjoy the convenience and simplicity offered by Airtel Money both on the USSD as well as in the My Airtel App”.

The new service that was launched today comes on the heels of an ongoing Airtel Money campaign called Free P2P which enables all Airtel Money customers to send and receive any amount of money for FREE.

“Free P2P or Ohereza Amafaranga Ku Buntu was launched in June 2021 saw Airtel scrap all charges to send and receive money between customers, a major differentiator that positions Airtel Money to become the provider of choice when it comes to payment of good and services such Canal+ that we have launched today” added Hamez.

Canal+ Rwanda’s Managing Director, Madam Sophie TCHATCHOUA said “It gives me great pleasure to allow Canal+ client to renew their subscription with Airtel Money. The successful integration of our mutual services makes life easier for our beloved customers who can now recharge and seamlessly have their images back and all this can be done from the comfort of their home”.

To renew your subscription via Airtel Money, customers can simply dial the direct short code string *500*4*3*2*4*1# on either their smartphone on feature phone, input their 14 Digit of their decoder  number, select their preferred bouquet and make the payment which is recognized by the Canal+ billing system instantly.

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Hundreds Of Passengers Miss Flight In Uganda Due To Delayed COVID-19 Tests

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Hundreds of Ugandans have been left stranded at Entebbe International Airport by the Emirates Airways after the laboratory where they had taken their Covid-19 results delayed to return them on time.

In a Snapchat post by Ugandan socialite Sheila Gashumba, she ranted, ‘’When I tell Ugandans that Covid in Uganda is a business they say I have ‘kajanja’.

Now all Emirates passengers have missed their flights because Safari Lab sent Covid results at 2:45pm and Emirates closed its gate at 3pm.

The hospital said it couldn’t work on everyone in the short time.

Around 300 passengers missed their flight yet Safari Lab had made a total of UgSh75m since everyone had paid UGX 250,000 for the test.

In the video where all passengers were visibly angry and frustrated, they can be heard asking for what the solution is and who is going to pay for the tickets again now that those that they had paid for can no longer be used anymore.

Passengers expressed their frustration at the rot in the service.

“I experienced such thing in March as the officers in charge claimed that the gates were close at 1pm as the flight was at 3pm,” one twitter user said.

Some made jokes out of it and asked, if this was because of the US$10 tax that is in the process of being introduced and will be paid by anyone that leaves the country using the Entebbe International Airport.

Another twitter user @kasoxialex2000 asked, ‘’@UgandaCAA (Uganda Civil Aviation Authority), but seriously you guys when you move to some airports don’t you copy something? Why are we ever backwards??? Stop embarrassing us. Who will save Uganda’’
By press time there was no official communication from the Civil Aviation Authority, Safari Lab nor Emirates Airways.

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Kagame Tells Bankers, Banking Can’t Just Be “Service For Elites”

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Banking can’t just be a service for elites, President Paul Kagame has said.  He made the remarks while speaking at the 14th Annual Banking and Finance Conference in Nigeria that he attended virtually.

Running under the theme, ‘’Economic Recovery, Inclusion and Transformation: The Role of Banking and Finance’’, the two-day conference will aim at the need to reposition the Finance and Banking sector as a catalyst for Economic recovery, transformation and inclusive growth.

In his remarks, he noted how the Covid pandemic has affected every aspect of Africa’s economies but at the same time also presents an opportunity for African banks to play a leading role in making societies more resilient and more responsive to the needs of Africans.

‘’Whatever affects business, affects banking. Financial services are the engine of private sector development. Banks are crucial for allocating capital wisely and productively,’’ he further added.

President Kagame noted that, in order to stay competitive, there is need to keep integrating new technology into banking to increase financial inclusion and access as banking can’t just be a service of elites.

He also went ahead to reemphasize what he has always said when it comes to African states always depending on the West and other countries for support. ‘’Indeed, Africa has the resources to fund its own economic growth and reduce dependence on external resources,’’ he said.

Kagame also noted that the African Continental Free Trade Area is creating new opportunities for Pan African Trade and investment. ‘’Banks with continental reach, like several of the institutions represented here can lead the way in cementing economic integration.’’

As he concluded, he stated how the banking sector, more than any other, understands the importance of integrity and good customer service. ‘’Banking is ultimately about trust. We look to you to set the pace in this regard. Our role as governments is to maintain good enabling environments, protecting both shareholders and customers while allowing for innovation. We expect you to keep challenging us on this,’’ he said.

In attendance at the same conference was the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Edwin Emefiele who made a huge announcement.  He said, ‘’Central Bank, will, in the next twelve months be establishing the Nigerian International Financial Centre (NIFC). The NIFC will act as an international gateway for capital and investments, driven by technology and payment system infrastructure.’’

In Rwanda, current statistics show that even though there are still various challenges that continue to put women behind men when it comes to financial inclusion, the number of women who are currently banked have risen from 24% in 2016 to 34% in 2021.

This is according to a FinScope 2020 Gender thematic report on the state of women financial inclusion in Rwanda that was supported by Access to Finance Rwanda (AFR).

In one of the Focus Notes from Access to Finance Rwanda, farmers reported that women and men enjoy equal rights and treatment at specified two Financial institutions in the Focus note and therefore no special gender based treatment yet the outcomes of each groups are not equal.

At both Financial Institutions, women and youths are more likely to use loans to hire land farm as they lack access to land and they have been assisted by addressing some of the barriers that women and youth face in accessing loans.

The conference will therefore focus on how banking can be a service enjoyed by all Africans regardless of their financial strengths through making access to finance for development is an easy and smooth process.

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