Haanee Khan, a partner at CMS Daly Inamdar Advocates (CMS), embodies the firm’s vision for Africa – to enable its staff on the continent to flourish at the top of their profession. He spoke to Chipo Muwowo about his career and some key objectives for the coming year.
Although Haanee Khan left school with the ambition of embarking on a corporate business career, it was the law modules on his business management degree in the UK that sparked his interest in a legal career instead. Before returning to Kenya where he was admitted as an Advocate of the High Court, Khan completed his Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) at BPP Law School, LLB and Legal Practice Course (LPC) at Nottingham Law School, in the United Kingdom.
Back home, a secondment to Kenya Airways led to a three-year stint as a full-time legal counsel with the airline. Khan’s time at Kenya Airways was fraught with financial difficulty for the airline, but he looks back on it as a career high point. “The board decided to sell and lease back various aircraft in a bid to inject capital back into the business,” he says. “That wasn’t good news for the business, but for a lawyer looking for experience in aviation and aviation finance it was fantastic training.”
Since joining CMS in September 2020 from competing firm IKM Advocates (DLA Piper Africa), Khan has honed his expertise to help develop the firms client relationship strategy and set up an aviation team in addition to his core role as a corporate transactional advisor. The new aviation offering adds to the team’s specialist offerings across different sectors which include banking, private equity, insurance, healthcare, dispute resolution and communications.
During the pandemic the team’s work slowed in some areas but picked up in others such as debt restructuring, insolvency and some dealmaking. “We closed one of Africa’s largest M&A deals during the pandemic,” Khan proudly disclosed. “The KSh10 billion Jubilee Holdings Ltd merger with Allianz was a multi-jurisdictional deal involving five African countries.”
One of the oldest civil law practices in Kenya, CMS traces its origins to 1899. The firm offers local and global companies business-focused advice in all aspects of corporate, commercial, real estate, and dispute resolution matters. “With Kenya being such a strategic market both geographically and economically, we’re in a very competitive environment,” said Khan who is based in Nairobi.
Across its offices in Kenya’s commercial hubs of Nairobi and Mombasa, CMS Daly Inamdar Advocates employs over 40 experienced lawyers some of whom are dual qualified in the UK and in Kenya, aided by an agile and robust business support services team. They’re part of the international CMS organisation which boasts 5,000 lawyers across 40-plus different jurisdictions. “The diversity of the team at CMS attracted me to the firm,” Khan said. “It’s a multicultural team that truly reflects Kenya.”
As one of the firm’s 15 partners, Khan is playing an active part in securing CMS’s success. “Over the next 12 months we want to bolster our relationships with clients. Given the competitive environment we’re in, we’re always having to find newer, more innovative ways to secure new business and retain it,” he commented.
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