My name is Adwoa Kontoh Yeboah and I was called to the Ghanaian bar in October 2014. In my over three years of practice as a lawyer, I have had the opportunity to work in Commercial, Corporate and Dispute Resolution firms. I began my legal practice at Messrs. Kulendi and Partners, a litigation and corporate firm located in Accra. In 2016, I moved to East- bridge Associates and worked there until January, 2017 when I was seconded to Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, an international law firm in Milan, Italy.
WHY I PURSUED THE ASLA WOMEN PROGRAM
I saw the Asla Women program as an important first step towards building my capacity in the field of international business law. It is my career goal to be an expert in the field of international business and to advice on international commercial transactions in Ghana and ultimately in Africa.
Asla Women provided me with the opportunity to gain practical experience in the field of international business law and commercial transactions. I had the occasion to draw upon a wealth of knowledge at some of the highest levels of international best practice.
Secondly, I pursued this program because as a professional I believed that it would offer an invaluable opportunity to meet and network with like-minded professionals. I achieved this goal because I built strong networks and relationships during this program.
Finally, I pursued the program because of the opportunity to take LL.M courses in Negotiation, Mediation and International Anti- corruption at the University of Milan.
MEETING ASLA WOMEN
I first met representatives of Asla Women upon my arrival at the airport in Milan, Italy. The president of Asla Women was also at the airport to welcome my colleague and me. They drove us to our apartment and helped us settle in.
Throughout our six (6) months stay in Milan, we had periodic lunch and dinner meetings with Cristina Fussi to discuss our experiences in our respective law firms and also to give status reports on our studies at the University of Milan.
The day of my departure from Milan, Simona Viola was kind enough to drive me to the airport and helped me check in.
EXPERIENCE WITH HOST FIRMS
CLEARY GOTTLIEB STEEN & HAMILTON LLP (February – May, 2017)
At Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, I worked as a team member in the international business and Arbitration department. The Arbitration cases before the International Chamber of Commerce required us to amongst other things, prepare statements of claim, interview witnesses, draft witness statements and other such processes for arbitration. I also got the opportunity to work on international agreements, perform due diligence and review documents like insurance contracts.
Through the firm, I registered and attended the ICC conference in Rome, where the President of the international Court of Arbitration, Alexis Mourre presented on the new ICC rules on Arbitration. Whilst there, I visited the Firm’s Rome office and met other colleagues there.
My Tutor and colleagues at the office were open and welcomed me unto their cases. I had an awesome experience working there. I also got the opportunity to be part of other office activities like the firm’s Annual meeting.
My main challenge was the language barrier. Some cases I could have been a part of were in Italian and that was a challenge.
R & P LEGAL (May – August, 2017)
At R & P Legal, I got the chance to be a part of an incredible team as well. I worked on international business transactions that included Share purchase agreements, Distribution agreements and other Contracts.
However, as it was at Cleary Gottlieb, my main challenge was the language barrier. I could not be part of many cases because they were in Italian or the processes had to be drafted in Italian.
STUDY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MILAN (March – July, 2017)
The course in Negotiation and Mediation enabled me to gain both theoretical and practical insights into becoming a better negotiator: an expertise incredibly necessary in legal practice.
I also took a course in International Anti- corruption taught by Professor Chiara Ragni. Corruption is a major disincentive to international investment and business in Africa. Therefore, I pursued this program because of the opportunity to study the dynamics of corruption and learn how developed countries like Italy, where corruption is also a problem, are fighting against its pervasiveness.
Furthermore, I took practical and oral examinations in both courses.
ASLA-Women also provided me with the opportunity to meet and interact with the authorities at the National Anti- corruption Authority (ANAC) in Rome.
At the roundtable discussion with ANAC, I learnt that in order to combat corruption in the Italian public sector, ANAC had been given wide powers including supervisory and regulatory powers to ensure transparency in all management aspects especially where it involves public contracts.
On the 10th of June, 2017, Asla held a conference under the theme “Fighting Corruption under International Law: Achievements and Challenges.”
I presented on a topic that I am passionate about; the link between corruption in Nigeria and the country’s failure to meet its human rights obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
At the conference, I also got the opportunity to listen to Professors Leonardo Borlini and Chiara Ragni speak on the Anti- Corruption fight on the global stage.
FUTURE WITH ASLA
The Asla Women initiative is a laudable program and I shall be readily available to co-operate, promote and assist in any future projects of Asla.