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GLOBAL INDUSTRY FILE

In last week’s edition, we took a quick look at the legal market in Nigeria and activities within the commercial and business law community. Relying on our study of the market and projections by industry analysts/key players in the market, we offered an outlook of the market in 2014.

This week, however, we take a look at the global legal market and specific projections coming from a couple of other jurisdictions.

Top US law firms not expecting huge profits in 2014

Recent reports and projections for the New Year show that top American firms (also known as The BigLaw) may not be expecting an outstanding financial year in 2014.

According to the American Bar Association (ABAJournal), this could be attributed to the lack of “seismic shocks to the legal industry” last year, coupled with the fact the both the law firms and their clients are still recovering from the downward dive the economy took in 2008.

This projection was made, based on survey conducted by Citi Private Bank and Hildebrandt Consulting, 57 large American law firms and released on Monday, this week.

Citi Private Bank’s chairman, Dan DiPietro was quoted on the Wall Street Journal Law Blog saying, “It’s a new day, and a new set of dynamics … has emerged,” as he urged law firms to consider, putting client feedback programs in place to ensure that their attorneys are taking advantage of all opportunities for business growth.

USA: States get more strategic laws

Also in the United State of America, new laws went into effect on January 1, 2014 in various states.

There are more restrictions on access to applicants’ and employees’ criminal history, credit information, and personal social media content.

Employers will now be required to grapple with next-generation issues raised by the use of social media as a business tool and the increasing adoption of “bring-your-own-device” (BYOD) programs.

Industry experts believe that the ever-shifting balance between employer prerogative and employee privacy will likely continue to move in a direction that favours employee privacy.

China makes significant changes to Company Law

China has made a few changes to its Company Law. The  amendments which were released on the 28th of December, 2013 will become effective on March 1, 2014.

One of the significant aspects of the Amendment is that it simplifies the process  and requirements for setting up a company in China in order to stimulate private sector entrepreneurship.

Below are some of the Key Changes in this law:

• The system transitions from a “paid-up capital regime” to a “subscribed capital regime.” This means that equity- holders of a company are no longer subject to various statutory requirements to contribute capital by certain deadlines. Formerly,   investors were required to contribute certain amounts of registered capital (cash) by certain deadlines, which forced investors to undertake the difficult goal of anticipating a company’s capital needs years in advance. This is no longer required.

• The statutory minimum requirements for registered capital are generally removed, which reduces the cost for company incorporation. Investors were required to subscribe for a statutorily required minimum registered capital even for companies that did not require such capital. This is no longer the case.

• Most of the capital contribution verification requirements have been abolished.

These amendments it is believed would make the establishment of companies in China easier and faster.

Pioneer chair of the SBL honoured by the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies 

Pioneer Chair of the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Business Law and Principal Mr. George Etomi was recently honoured by the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, as an honorary fellow of the institute in recognition of his contributions to legal scholarship.

Also honoured on the same day are, Wole Olanikpekun, SAN; Hon. Justice Mary Odili of the Supreme Court; J.B. Daudu, SAN; amongst several others at an a elobarate ceremony in Abuja, with Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Mariam Aloma Mukhtar, (FNIALS) and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN (FNIALS) both of whom are distinguished Fellows of the institute present at this ceremony.

George Etomi, (FNIALS), who is also the Principal Partner of top commercial law firm, George Etomi & Partners, has been an Honorary Fellow of the Centre for International Legal Studies (CILS) in Salzbury, Austria.

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