Dallas’ White Wiggins & Barnes, which expanded in May with an office in New York and four lateral hires, is following through on its strategic plan to build an international practice in Africa as it launches an office in South Africa and affiliates with Nigerian firm Tope Adebayo.
Kennedy Barnes, a partner in Dallas, said the minority-owned White Wiggins has been in talks with Tope Adebayo since the beginning of the year, and the lawyers concluded the firms are a good fit.
“They are a sophisticated litigation shop—litigation and arbitration,” Barnes said.
Barnes said he got to know lawyers from Tope Adebayo while working with them on an arbitration, stemming from an energy deal held in Houston and Nigeria. He said Tope Adebayo has U.S.-based clients with operations in Nigeria and international clients that sometimes have disputes in the United States, so the affiliation between the firms is beneficial.
Barnes said they are giving the affiliation about 18 months to see how it works and then perhaps talk merger. He expects lawyers from his firm to spend time in Nigeria and lawyers from Tope Adebayo to come to the United States for a time as part of the integration effort.
“We are engaged,” he said in describing the affiliation.
Tope Adebayo, senior partner in the firm that bears his name, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Barnes said White Wiggins also opened an office in Johannesburg, South Africa, because the firm already has a number of entertainers, producers, content creators and finance clients there. The firm is talking with some potential lateral hires there, he said, but has none to announce yet.
“The entertainment space for us is our sweet spot, and it’s an excellent way to enter a legal market as we see it,” he said.
White Wiggins was founded in 1993 and is the oldest minority-owned civil practice firm in Texas, according to the firm. Tope Adebayo has eight lawyers, according to its website.