With international expansion and mergers becoming more common, law firms in the United States are starting to expand to the vast continent of Africa. Over the past several years, countries in Africa have been growing economically and have increasingly become tourist destinations. While Asia has been popular place for US law firm expansion and mergers, Africa is quickly emerging as a new focal point for Biglaw.
As hotels are being built, new projects started, and contracts being written between governments and petroleum producers, the need for attorneys has greatly increased in many areas of Africa. In countries like Ethiopia, Ghana, Morocco, and Kenya, especially, the need for more attorneys and advisers is rapidly growing due to economic stability and expanding markets. Companies are turning to law firms to help with deals, create regulations, regulate trade, develop infrastructure projects, and assist with other aspects of business that require legal assistance. Energy is also a major ticket throughout Africa. A growing middle class has contributed to to rise in need for lawyers as well in countries such as Sierra Leone, Niger, Ivory Coast, and Liberia. As opportunities for expansion become increasingly viable, law firms are beginning to take notice and take advantage of these opportunities.
Several law firms have recently opened Africa practice groups, including Williams Mullen in Washington, DC, Covington & Burling, and Greenberg Traurig. Jude Kearney, the lead attorney for the Africa practice group at Greenberg Traurig, states, “If you’re a firm with clients that are internationally active, you’d have to be almost willfully ignoring Africa not to focus on it. The time is now.”
As economic growth expands to the lucrative industries of oil, gas, mining, and infrastructure throughout the continent, we may see more activity in those sectors than any other place in the world in the near future. As the new year is now upon us comes to a start, expect to see more law firms turning to African countries for new business opportunities.