The top ten largest law firms in Africa for 2022 were announced at the African Legal Awards on 2 September. Not much changed in the top five from last year, but there were solid shiftings to take note of.
ENSAfrica have retained their top spot by fee-earner headcount for the third consecutive year, with an average of 470 employed across 2021. The gap between this number and DLA Piper Africa’s lawyer count has narrowed to just ten, with the international firm now employing 460 lawyers across its African structure.
The top ten largest law firms in Africa have, collectively, added 534 lawyers to their headcount since 2019, with growth most rapid from 2020 to 2021, during which 482 lawyers joined this group.
This dramatic increase can largely be explained by the addition of ALN as a single firm for this year’s rankings in recognition of their integration efforts aligned with the Africa Top-50 criteria. Looking at firms present in the top ten each year for the past three rankings, total headcount growth was more modest at 244 from 2019 to 2021.
In 2021 just under 3000 lawyers were employed by the top ten largest law firms in Africa, with an average headcount of 300 lawyers per firm. The smallest firm in the top ten, Adams & Adams, employed an average of 136 fee earners across 2021, while the largest top-ten firm, ENSAfrica, employed 470 fee earners, down from 472 in 2020 and 480 in 2019.
Excluding new entrants, the top-ten firm with the highest increase in fee earners from 2019 to 2021 is Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr which added 120 lawyers to their staff complement in this period, with 94 of this cohort being added in 2020. This growth rate is tailed closely by international giant Dentons which added 116 lawyers in the same period, mostly through combinations with existing firms in Mozambique, Tanzania and Nigeria.
The average number of fee earners added by top-ten firms from 2019 to 2021 was just 27.
DLA Piper Africa retained their top slot by number of offices in African jurisdictions (20), followed by new-entrant ALN with 15 and Dentons with 11.
Africa Top-50 for 2022 will be released in the coming days.
These rankings are produced in partnership with Africa Legal and Law.com International and will be released in full shortly.
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