Kenya’s business and legal environment have shifted over the last 10 years since the promulgation of the new Constitution in 2010. Constitutional and other reforms have radically changed the business landscape in Kenya. Pursuant to the new Constitution, several other laws were enacted and many others amended.
Constitutional reforms were the biggest game changer that has been witnessed in the Kenyan legal environment.
Positive legal and constitutional reforms have a good impact on the business environment. This is the reason Ethiopia is increasingly becoming an attractive investment hub for foreign investment. The main reason is due to Ethiopian initiative on privatisation. A number of Kenyan corporate giants have already shown interest in Ethiopia.
Technological and ICT reforms have been a second game changer in the business environment. Such reforms become an opportunity for businesses that quickly adapt and become a threat for those that are slow to change.
I will use the Kenyan legal services sector to illustrate how increased usage of technology has radically shifted business. Registration and renewal of practising certificates can now be done only online through the Law Society’s digital platform.
Most government support services that the legal services sector interacts with have also gone digital through the online platform— e-citizen. Business incorporations, due diligence, land registrations and immigration services are all done through this platform.
Legal research has been made faster and cheaper due to the availability of relevant free online legal resources, the Kenya Law Reports. These give access to statutes, reported case law and other legal resources.
At the click of a button any lawyer from any part of the globe can access relevant Kenyan legal resources. There are now plans to initiate a digital filing system where cases are filed online.
Businesses in the legal services sector have no choice but to digitise. Paralegal staff, who mostly interact with the support services and registries will have to digitise or become irrelevant. It is now not a case of using connections to get work done, but is a case of how technologically inept a paralegal is. Competitive recruitment candidates are those with ICT skills.
The future law firm will employ artificial intelligence in drafting documents and handling research. Complex cases currently mean that lawyers spend many hours researching. However the usage of artificial intelligence may mean that research will now become faster and easier.
One key performance indicator for the legal service sector is how fast one is able to complete a task. Artificial intelligence will boost the performance of firms.
On the downside, adoption of artificial intelligence will lead to job cuts in the market. Legal researchers may find themselves competing for jobs with “robots.”
This illustrates that businesses and the talent supply (job seekers) have to constantly adapt to changes in the external business environment as this is crucial for survival and growth.
It is important to undertake an honest evaluation of your business and prepare to adapt to the changing business environment.