International pro bono projects often involve American lawyers providing advice to foreign countries about how they can do things better. Whether their training is particularly suited to that task, however, isn’t always clear.

Take the massive project undertaken by Carter Ledyard & Milburn; DLA Piper; and Cravath, Swaine & Moore to assist the Millennium Cities Initiative. The initiative is run by the Earth Institute of Columbia University in conjunction with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); it’s the brainchild of economist Jeffrey Sachs, who has enlisted such celebrities as Bono, Madonna and Angelina Jolie to take up the cause of African development. The goal is to transform six cities in six different African countries from high-risk, underdeveloped, overcrowded urban areas to burgeoning metropolises ripe for foreign investment.

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