As a result of the GLEE project, the Center is now universally considered to be the preeminent research institution studying the global legal profession. With the publication or soon to be publication of books on India, Brazil, and China (all by Cambridge University Press), the first phase of the GLEE project is nearing completion. We believe that the best way to build on this legacy of success is to bring the GLEE project to Africa.
We have chosen to bring GLEE to Africa because of what we see as the region’s unique importance and the Center’s comparative advantage in completing research in this area. According to the IMF, by 2050, Africa and the Middle East could comprise more than 20% of global GDP. Indeed, several countries in sub-Saharan Africa are already among the fastest growing in the world, with rapidly expanding middle-class populations driving demand for 21-century consumer products like cell phones and mobile banking, in addition to the continued evolution of traditional export-driven industries focused on the continent’s abundant natural resources. As a result, many countries in this region are developing a new corporate legal sector, including increasingly large and sophisticated law firms and in-house legal departments. Yet, there is very little systematic information about how this sector is developing, and how it is likely to affect the ability of multinational companies and other transnational actors to work with institutions to help countries within the region develop the stable legal institutions essential to the continent’s economic, political, and social development.
The Center is also uniquely positioned to fill in this knowledge gap. In addition to having almost a decade of experience in putting projects of this kind together, our experience in India, Brazil, and China is directly relevant to the work that needs to be done in Africa. All three of these emerging economies have significant connections to—and interests in—Africa. As a result, we will be able to explore the growing “South-South” axis that is likely to play a key role in defining the multipolar world of the 21st century.
According to the IMF, by 2050, Africa and the Middle East could comprise more than 20% of global GDP.
Understanding how this process is unfolding will be even more difficult in the African context than it was in India, Brazil, and China. Africa is, of course, a continent not a country. Even in sub-Saharan Africa there is considerable linguistic, social, economic, political, and historical diversity among countries. Nevertheless, given our work in India, Brazil, and China—and the increasing importance of South-South exchange among these rising powers and between each of them and Africa—as well as our extensive experience in researching changes in the U.S. legal market, the core GLEE team is uniquely positioned to take up this challenge. We will only be able to do so, however, if we can collaborate with key institutional stakeholders that have the in-depth knowledge of the region gained through many years of doing business on the ground.