Forging a world-class law firm with continental roots to take East Africa by storm

As one of the fastest-growing pre-covid markets in the continent, East Africa remains an exciting hub of investment and expansion opportunities in 2021 and beyond. Although Covid-19 has slowed the momentum of general global economic expansion, Kenya alone is predicted to record GDP growth of 7.6% after a contraction of only 0.1% last year despite the pandemic.

In the wake of this opportunity, Sammy Ndolo, Managing partner of Nairobi-based law firm Kieti Advocates LLP (Kieti) and tier-one South African-based corporate legal firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr (CDH) agreed to join forces.  As of 1 April 2021, the Nairobi-based firm was renamed Kieti Law LLP and is fully integrated into CDH and will operate under the CDH banner.

For Ndolo, the economic explosion in East African market means legal expertise has become a critical sector not only in Kenya, but across the region and the continent. “With increased demand in corporate law, equity, energy, fintech, and of, course infrastructure projects – we knew this was the best time to find a partner that could help us scale to meet the demands of our clients, businesses in the region, and those global entities looking to expand into Africa.”

Although Ndolo agrees that these are similar demands that can be seen across most global markets, he believes East Africa provides a unique opportunity given its size and economic growth trajectory.

Ndolo and his partners at Kieti chose CDH as they believed both firms share a tenacity and passion for being client-centric and, providing pragmatic legal solutions that are responsive to clients’ business needs and strategies. “Both our firms are particularly excited about the value that the combination of Southern African and Eastern African, commercial legal ability can bring to our respective clients and our ability to serve them even better than we currently do,” said Ndolo.

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Although, Ndolo acknowledged some ‘international law firms’ that have made their way into the African market, he believes this to be no more than big brands throwing their weight into regional boxes. “It is quite popular for these international brand names to set up shop in hubs like Nairobi and simply slap their name on the door. Most of them only provide a name and then you never hear from them until you receive an invoice.”

As the East African market continues to expand, Ndolo believes this expansion requires an African firm with African roots, African talent and an African soul to properly meet the needs and demands of a truly African venture. “An African law firm is one that is in touch with the needs of its community and is therefore able to address their challenges – African challenges.”

Beyond that, Ndolo believes a top African firm needs to look after its people, and not outsourcing work to bigger global firms for the sake of growth but rather growing Africa from within, for Africans by Africans.

Managing Partner of Kieti Law LLP, Sammy Ndolo said, “The principal reason that we and our partners at CDH decided to establish this partnership as a fully integrated firm was to be more responsive to your many requests over time and, as one of our firm’s most important clients, that we be able to offer you a seamless, efficient and exceptional service of the kind they have come to know us for, in Eastern and Southern Africa.”

Ever since Ndolo opened the doors of Kieti Law LLP, he noted a significant level of interest and excitement within his existing client base and beyond. “On day one we had already received interest from big financial firms in both New York and London, with more requests coming in by the day. With CDH we have become a one stop shop, providing comprehensive world-class solutions with African roots, African talent and a unique African perspective.”

Odipo Riaga
Managing Editor at KachTech Media
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