Unlocking Legal Skills in the
"Landlocked Land of Opportunity"

Photo above: Leopold Zentner (Riyadh) poses with ZIALE law school students

"February 2018", will forever be synonymous with words such as "Pro Bono", "Team Work", "Teaching", "Incredible Journey", "Special Bonds" and, of course, "Zambia!". It will mark an unforgettable milestone in my professional and private life.  So, what actually happened in February 2018?

I was privileged to be part of a team of DLA and GE lawyers who taught at the Zambian Institute of Advanced Legal Education (ZIALE) in Lusaka, Zambia. It was rather daunting at first, as ZIALE has a very impressive heritage and prominent alumni, but the ZIALE staff were so down-to-earth that the trainers immediately felt very welcome.

Our team of 20 lawyers was truly global, with participants drawn from diverse places including Canada, the US, South Africa, Australia, Germany, Russia, the UK and Saudi Arabia.

As ZIALE is the school that all law graduates in Zambia must pass through to qualify to practice law, the student body of around 400 also comes from all corners of the country. The combination of our team and the ZIALE students thus represented a rich, diverse cultural mix.

The classes covered five topics ranging from negotiation skills to joint ventures to sale and purchase agreements. These were taught in interactive, all-day sessions across a full five-day working week. Our team of 20 was subdivided into 10 teams of two, and those 10 teams were further split across the five topics. The students rotated on a daily basis to ensure that everyone received training on all topics.

The interaction with the students was wonderful. It was great to see how students grew in confidence and became more relaxed as the week progressed. The enthusiasm was particularly evident during the interactive parts of the sessions. To see a relatively quiet student suddenly emerge as a fierce and formidable negotiator was fascinating to observe and immensely rewarding as a teacher.

The students were, as expected, incredibly polite. Gratitude for our efforts was constantly flowing largely through a very genuine "thank you", but also through rather unusual ways. It took me a couple of days to be accustomed to requests for selfies but after a while I grew rather fond of it. That reminds me that I need to check my "instagram.zm" following!

Before I joined DLA, I wasn't fully aware of the scope of the firm's pro bono activities. The amount of time, human resources and money invested by the firm is something that I am very proud of. It gave me the opportunity to meet 19 people from DLA and GE whom I would have likely never met. Going through this journey together created a special bond. The true highlights, however, were the students and the feeling that I played a part (however minor) in supporting their legal careers and professional development.