Baker McKenzie is in the running to retain the prestigious International Law Firm of the Year title at the African Legal Awards after the 2018 finalists were revealed.

To retain the 2017 award, which was collected by Johannesburg managing partner Morne van der Merwe (pictured), Bakers must see off competition from Hogan Lovells, DLA Piper and White & Case to be named as the global firm making the biggest impact on Africa’s burgeoning legal landscape.

Hosted by Legal Week and the Corporate Counsel Association of South Africa (CCASA), the awards seek to recognise outstanding achievement across Africa’s legal community as the continent’s economic potential unleashes a wealth of opportunities and challenges for local and international lawyers alike.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Wanderers Club in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Friday 7 September 2018.

Local firms including Webber Wentzel, AB & David, Bowmans and Anjarwalla & Khanna have been shortlisted for the African Law Firm of the Year Award (large practice), with South Africa’s LNP Attorneys, Kenya’s Ashitiva Advocates and Angola’s GLA also in contention for the small practice award.

In-house teams at Standard Chartered Bank, Unilever South Africa and the Nigerian Stock Exchange are in the running for the Legal Department of the Year Award (large team), while AFGRI Group and Adrian Group Kenya are among those in with a shout for the small team award.

Other categories include the Best Use of Technology Award (with shortlisted names including Exigent and Law For All), the CSR, Diversity, Transformation and Economic Empowerment Award (with ENSafrica and Mozambique firm TTA among the final six hopefuls), and the usual spread of hotly contested specialist practice awards.

It is not just Bakers that could potentially pick up awards for a second year running. Other firms in with a chance of retaining their titles include 2017’s Specialist Law Firm of the year Spoor & Fisher and 2017 African Network/Alliance of the Year winner Miranda Alliance.

Spoor & Fisher faces fresh competition this year from LNP Attorneys and property law specialists Harris Hadar, while Miranda Alliance will again battle it out with Africa Legal Network, VdA Legal Partners and Webber Wentzel/Linklaters, but this time with extra competition from networks including ABLE, PLMJ, Law For All and LEX Africa.

The award ceremony in September will conclude with the announcement of the CCASA’s Achievement Award, which last year went to South Africa’s Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.

Click here to read the full shortlist

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The African Legal Awards follow Corporate Counsel Forum Africa, which will be co-chaired by Eileen Brumbeck, senior vice-president and general counsel, GE Electric, and Shibishi Maruatona, general counsel, Ford Motor Company, southern Africa. For sponsorship enquiries, email jwoolf@alm.com or call +44 (0) 203 875 0669.