(L-R) Awards host Peter Ndoro; Morne van der Merwe, Johannesburg managing partner, Baker McKenzie; and awards judge Elizabeth Defillo, Power Technologies

Finalists: Covington (Highly Commended); Herbert Smith Freehills; Hogan Lovells; Norton Rose Fulbright; White & Case.

Baker McKenzie was crowned International Law firm of the Year for its continued expansion into Africa, having trebled its footprint on the continent during the past five years. As well as building out its presence on the ground, the firm’s global reach means it has an edge on cross-border transactions with international clients – in the past 12 months its Africa team has acted for clients in more than 20 countries outside of Africa and more than 30 countries inside.

To support its regional growth, Baker McKenzie is developing a network of African relationship firms in jurisdictions where it does not have a permanent base. Referrals to and from those firms have increased five-fold in the past year, while invitations from clients to pitch for work in Africa have almost doubled, aided by the firm’s flexible and transparent payment structure that allows for capped fees and blended rates. And in addition to providing training and secondment opportunities to relationship firm lawyers, Baker McKenzie is also seeking to build capacity in Africa and improve the quality and efficiency of the continent’s legal environment through various initiatives and thought-leadership programmes aimed at independent law firms, local government and trade organisations.

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