Johannes Gouws, South Africa managing partner, collects the award from host, broadcaster Leanne Manas (left) and awards judge Bill Skirving, Hannover Re Group Africa Johannes Gouws, South Africa managing partner, collects the award with his team from host, broadcaster Leanne Manas (far left)

Finalists: ALN; Eversheds Africa Law Institute; Lex Africa

DLA Piper Africa took home the African Network of the Year prize for its alliance programme with a select group of local law firms across the continent. DLA Piper’s African unit was formed to develop relationships with its 15 member firms covering francophone, lusophone and anglophone Africa, allowing it to combine local on-the-ground expertise with the firm’s global experience in key African sectors (recently adding Angola and currently in discussions with others).

DLA Piper says it invests heavily in its alliance firms, such as providing knowledge management support, business development resources, upgrading business communication tools and hosting training academies. Further support is offered through a secondment programme, where alliance firm lawyers are posted to other DLA Piper offices around the world.

The firm has collaborated on a number of key projects in Africa, including the construction of a 600 megawatt coal-fired power station and associated developments in Zambia (with Chibesakunda & Co), a government medical supplies project in Kenya (with Iseme Kamau & Maema – see the Transportation and Infrastructure Team of the Year award), and many others. The firm has also set up a nonprofit organisation – New Perimeter – which helps provide legal-writing training and analysis to law students at the University of Zambia.