Their presences owes a great deal to the language, institutions and common legal systems introduced by colonization but, law and spectacular cases apart, these lawyers also serve as vectors of influence in France. By a kind of mirror effect, they are judged by their real or supposed capacity to convey messages to France's top political leaders, in some instances via very active freemasonry networks. The reputation of these masters of influence and law rises and falls in line with changes in France's political leadership. We have included the 10 most influential of them here.
Fiscal specialist Claude Dumont-Beghi came into this exclusive club late when she took on the defence of Gabonese president Ali Bongo but her colleagues Jean-Paul Benoit, Christian Charriere-Bournazel and William Bourdon, who are close to the French Socialist movement, have handled a whole collection of cases for Alassane Ouattara and Patrice Talon. Others, who already have well-established African credentials, like Jean-Pierre Versini-Campinchi, Pierre-Olivier Sur, Francois Meyer and Pierre Haik continue to be called in by such presidents as Denis Sassou-Nguesso, Macky Sall, Blaise Compaore, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Faure Gnassingbe. Other younger lawyers have also succeeded in in establishing themselves as the exclusive representatives of African heads of state in France. Such is the case for Jemal Taleb, defence counsel and legal adviser to Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.