Four African law firms - BFR & Associés (based in Morocco), Bourabiat Associés (Algeria), EMIRE Partners (Côte d’Ivoire) and SD Avocats (Guinea) – have agreed to merge their practices.
Salimatou Diallo, the Managing Partner, together with Safia Fassi-Fihri, Foued Bourabiat and Sydney Domoraud, the Founding Partners, have founded ADNA, a new, integrated law firm specialising in four key practice areas, namely corporate, banking and finance, projects, and dispute resolution.
ADNA, which means “togetherness” in the Bantu group of languages, will work with national, regional, and international corporates, multilateral organisations, and states, with the aim of developing its own distinctly African legacy, acting as a gateway to legal services on the continent.
Diallo, ADNA’s managing partner, said all four founding partners were long-standing friends, with similar entrepreneurial visions, who, in founding ADNA, shared a mutual professional goal – “to meet client needs with excellence”.
She said, “Our in-depth knowledge of the legal and economic environment, in Africa and internationally, allows us to advise our clients on the most complex transactions. The launch of ADNA strengthens the increasing attractiveness and influence of this fast-growing continent.”
She said the firm’s values of unity and fraternity would underpin its client relationships; values built on the founders’ extensive transactional, advisory, and disputes experience, gained at both their own and international law firms.
Each of the founding partners has worked in Paris and London, with time spent on blue-chip mandates for international financial institutions, large corporates, credit agencies, private equity funds, international investors, and sovereign wealth funds.
Their experience spans firms like Hogan Lovells, Herbert Smith Freehills, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and US firm, Orrick, as well as leading independent French law firms, and their own practices.
ADNA will also join the ALN law firm alliance, expanding that association’s reach to span some of Africa’s most significant jurisdictions.
ALN’s founder, Karim Anjarwalla, called the new firm’s foundation “a crucial turning point for the continent” which would significantly increase ALN’s influence, adding that it “provides a solid foundation for the future development of our pan-African offering.”
Speaking exclusively to Africa Legal, he said the market for cross-border legal services was increasing – and law firm associations in Africa, with local affiliations and mergers, were responding to that.
The capabilities that ALN provided, he said, were “absolutely essential” to clients, adding “well-structured law firm associations have massive potential in the years ahead”.
Corporate clients would benefit from the alliance’s “unique combination of combining global skills with local know-how”, based on collaboration between African law firms, under an increasingly integrated operational model.
ALN, he said, “responds very well to what clients are looking for in benchmarked legal advice, quality and efficiency, and, crucially, with local law, know-how, and expertise. And that's what ALN firms provide in spades.”
Commenting on ADNA’s launch, Anjarwalla said Francophone Africa had, historically, not produced law firms of scale.
“ADNA is a very sophisticated response to that challenge. Each of the ADNA partners is globally trained, and African. They combine unique strengths across practice areas, and across geographies, to provide a one-stop-shop solution in Francophone Africa.”
Citing the significance of OHADA membership for 17 of Africa’s 54 geographies, including in ADNA’s own jurisdictions, ADNAs work across that single legal system of commercial law would make it “perfectly placed within that framework to serve clients,” including those of ALN’s law firms, bringing their client offering to “a better and higher level”.
“This is a step change in the way that clients, particularly in Francophone Africa, will be serviced,” said Anjarwalla, noting that many of ADNA and ALN’s clients were mutual ones, including financial institutions, development finance organisations, and corporates.
Such clients “can be even more confident that the quality and efficiency of service they expect will reach new heights,” he concluded, in welcoming ADNA to the alliance.
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