James Morrison is a lawyer in Ashfords LLP’s Commercial Disputes Team. In March he spent a week working with Danie Stachan, Jac Marais and Mia de Jager at Adams & Adams in Pretoria, South Africa.

Some of the best opportunities for development come from experiencing a different context. These experiences can encourage new ways of thinking and help grow relationships.

I am a solicitor with Ashfords LLP and in March I spent a week with fellow ADVOC firm Adams & Adams in Pretoria, South Africa. During the placement I had the opportunity to meet with a number of Adams & Adams’ teams, to attend meetings and hearings and to discuss the firm’s work.

The laws of England and Wales share many features with South Africa, especially its common law legal system and much of its company and commercial law. It was beneficial to discuss these similarities with lawyers at Adams & Adams and to share our experiences of how these common principles work out in our different parts of the world. 

But there are lots of differences too. Whilst some of these stem from the countries’ differing laws, during my placement I saw that just as significant can be the impact of local practical differences. Whether it’s differing costs and speed of litigation, the availability and implementation of legal technology or regulatory burden on law firms, lawyers around the world work in different contexts and this can affect their work just as much as the law does.

Spending a week experiencing legal life in South Africa has helped me to develop a different perspective on some of the work I do in the UK and to build some valuable relationships along the way.