“…Lawyers can make an impact in Africa by contributing to law students’ education and by assisting them through mentorship”- Mahamat Atteib

Mahamat Atteib is a Counsel at Geni & Kebe Lawyers (DLA Piper Africa). His practice is focused on energy and natural resources as well as in international arbitration. He advises both public and private entities regarding the conception, the implementation or the assessment of their projects in the OHADA region from regulatory, transactional and dispute resolution perspectives.

He has completed secondment in international law firms and worked as a consultant for NGOs and international organizations including Oxfam, African Development Bank and African Legal Support Facility. He is also an ICC Young Arbitrators Forum Representative for Africa.

Mahamat has an interest in academia as he teaches environmental and energy laws and regulations at Gaston Berger University (GBU). He is the author of several papers including the stabilization clauses in mining and oil agreements (Editions Universitaires Europeenes, 2013), Unbalanced mining agreements under Unidroit principles relating to commercial contracts (Manchester University Press, 2020) and was a contributor to the ICC Guide to National Procedures for the Recognition and Enforcement of Awards under the New York Convention, Senegal Chapter (ICC Digital Library, 2019).

He has recently awarded Africa’s 50 Most Promising Young Arbitration Practitioners Award (AYA, 2020). He was also the recipient of the Excellence Scholarship for young African lawyers, (Bredin Prat, 2018).

Mahamat Atteib holds LLB, LLM and MPhil at Gaston Berger University (GBU) and is a PhD Candidate at the University of Geneva. He is also certified in Mining Law, drafting contracts and dispute resolution from Strathmore University, Leiden University and the University of Geneva.

1. What makes legal practice exciting for Mahamat?

There are three key factors that make legal practice exciting to for him.

He mentions that first key factor is the capacity to innovate. He understands that legal practice is quite a game where there are rules to organise the market and there is unlimited space left for players to extend their creativity and genius. Beyond rules, he believes lawyers develop everyday-ways to achieve social and economic goals while complying with legal requirements.

The second one for him is that the legal practice has afforded him the opportunity to meet people from various legal backgrounds and cultures. For instance, he notes that finance projects and international arbitration are typically internationalised practises which  have given him the privilege of interacting with an international community and driving cross-border projects.  He understands that while law is increasingly taught and practiced beyond legal systems and cultures borders, there are more and more common standards, transnational rules and dispute resolution mechanisms. In his opinion, it makes the practice of the law more exciting.

Finally, the third factor that makes legal practice very exciting to him  is being able to help clients realize their goals. For instance, he mentions that when one practices business and corporate law, one discovers various economic sectors. He has learnt a lot from the different projects he has advised specially in terms of economic rationales and management approach. He loves  aligning clients’ needs to legal rationale and requirements. For Mahamat, law, as each human endeavour, is a tool to design happiness and to assist people to achieve their aspirations. As a lawyer, he feels that he contributes to clients’ happiness.

2. What is his philosophy of impacting the nation through the practice of the law?

He is a firm believer that lawyers across Africa have a chance to contribute to the improvement of rule of law across borders. He also believes that African lawyers have the power to promote investment interest in order to meet economic development goals.  He mentions that this should be the objective and position of African lawyers. Additionally, he believes that lawyers should be available to assist vulnerable populations and young entrepreneurs’ projects. He understands that lawyers  can create a big impact in Africa by helping these individuals solve problems and realise their dreams.

Africa’s Legal Millennial: Mahamat Atteib

Africa’s Legal Millennial: Mahamat Atteib

Moreover, he thinks lawyers can make an impact in Africa by contributing to law students’ education and by assisting them through mentorship.  He believes that creating network opportunities and providing guidance to law students is a powerful way to build the next generation of lawyers; as well as sharing  practical legal advice with law students and new graduates is definitely a contribution to propel talents and prepare them for their legal careers.  “With adequate practical insight new legal practitioners can increase the role of law as a peace and economic development driver across the continent”, Mahamat notes.

3. What is the next big thing Mahamat is working on?

He is working to assist young lawyers and fresh graduates to better grasp the legal industry as he believes it is fundamental to draw legal academia closer to the African market and to the legal industry. He notes that it  is impossible to learn everything one needs to know in law school as some things are learnt from the actual practice of law.  He notes that his project helps fill in this gap.

4. What does he consider the millennials’ greatest strength?

Mahamat believes that Innovation and excellency are the key points for millennials. He understands that millennials are always growing up and go the extra mile to perform their objectives and solve challenges that they are facing.

For him being part of a digitalised and interconnected world is definitely an outstanding factor to innovate and he believes it puts millennials on the road to excellence as access to knowledge and best practices are easier to obtain.   He knows that technology has made it possible for millennials to share ideas and build a global community within a click; he cites this as beneficial because it allows comparative analysis and an international exchange. For him, Law Practice is more and more harmonised. “Comparative legal approaches and transsystemic legal approaches are privileged”, Mahamat notes. For him, Lawyers can educate and practice by building onto the strengths of each legal system; and of commercial law lato sensu and the development of international arbitration are key factors to illustrate this trend.

5. Who, in the profession does he look up to, and what is he currently reading?

He keeps a close look to the legal practitioners and academics who develop exceptional track records in all segments of practices or areas of interest. He is also following influencers on social media from various backgrounds including politics, technologies, sports and economics specialists.

With  regards to reading, he reads autobiographical narratives. This allows him to go beyond the scenes to realise people’s real sources of inspiration. Additionally, he reads legal and business reviews and magazines.


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