South African law firm ENS is set to open offices in Rwanda and Burundi, with the firm stating that the East African launches will make it the first integrated pan-African law firm.
The firm has hired Desire Kamanzi, managing partner of Kamanzi, Ntaganira & Associates, to lead ENS Africa - Rwanda, which will include the rest of his firm.
Meanwhile in Burundi, ENS has hired Gilbert Nyatanyi, former managing partner of Mkono's local arm, who will leave along with a team of associates to lead ENS Africa - Burundi.
ENS is not structured as a partnership with Nyatanyi and Kamanzi set to be remunerated in the same way as the firm's other executives.
ENS chief executive Piet Faber commented: "Our expansion marks the beginning of the realization of our vision to be a pan-African law firm -- not through a network, nor an alliance, nor a 'Swiss Verein,' but as one fully integrated firm with one brand, made up of people in Africa, working for Africa.
"We hope to open in all major jurisdictions in Africa in due course and it is our intention to develop local African talent. The African market is a sleeping giant that is now waking up."
Nyatanyi said: "I am convinced, considering the current economic climate, the only way forward is for us to be part of an integrated law firm that spans Africa -- to create a world-class service offering that will re-define how business is done on the Africa continent. The new firm will provide huge benefit to our clients, to the international players we deal with and even more so, to us as Africans."
Faber confirmed ENS was in advanced talks with lawyers in other jurisdictions as part of the plans, with other launches potentially happening later this year.
News of the launches comes as growing numbers of U.K. firms have been looking at African launches, with Linklaters currently in discussions with several local firms about forming a local alliance.