The legal practice has evolved and most businesses and investors in Africa are now looking for lawyers who not only understand the legalities applicable to their industry but also the commercial aspects of what they do, says Shakwa Nyambe, Managing Partner of Namibian firm SNC Incorporated.
“It’s sort of the trend now, for all businesses who want to grow. ,” says Nyambe. “They want you to be able to give not only sound legal advice, but also some sound business advice,”
When overseas corporations from places like the UK, Europe, US and Canada are looking to invest in Africa, they are looking for a multidisciplinary approach from their local advisors.
SNC Incorporated has strong expertise in the energy, natural resources and infrastructure sectors, along with commercial law and dispute resolution. It utilises a legal and commercial approach towards advising several international clients, including junior oil and gas companies.
“We see ourselves as the legal and business connection between Africa and the rest of the world,” says Nyambe, whose firm recently rebranded to underline its combined offering of legal and business advisory services.
A former State Advocate at the High Court of Namibia, Chief Legal Officer at the Ministry of Justice and Legal Counsel at the National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia, Nyambe says he saw the need to enhance his own commercial skills when setting up his law firm. He did this via education and training.
“I completed my Masters Degree of Energy in the UK, to provide me with a better understanding on issues pertaining to business planning, drafting of reports, commercial due diligence, and many other things.”
The value placed on training and ongoing education (to build skills in order to provide even greater benefits to clients) flows throughout SNC Incorporated. Most of the firm’s legal staff have earned international Masters’ degrees that have an industry and commercial focus.
“We’re a leading law firm in Namibia when it comes to energy, natural resources, corporate and commercial” notes Nyambe. “All the young lawyers want to work for our firm. We get brilliant applications, they want to learn. The exposure we get is a competitive advantage. They want to go through the road we went. We’re mentoring some to go and study in the UK, giving them internships.”
Talking to Nyambe, his passion for helping clients comes through, along with his pride in his team at SNC Incorporated, and their ‘global firm’ approach of providing commercial advice and business acumen alongside legal advice. Nyambe sees the firm expanding with further offices across Namibia and wider Africa, and eventually London while retaining its own brand.
“Some of the big international law firms are talking to us because they see we are doing something good,” he says. “They understand now that what we want is to collaborate with them. We are building our own brand. So, we want to continue with what we are doing and build on what we’ve already done.”
For SNC Incorporated, it’s all about taking care of businesses looking to operate in Namibia and wider Africa, taking care of their legal issues and their business operations. “We do not want to be lawyers who don’t understand the business side,” says Nyambe. “We’re able to give our clients comprehensive legal and business advisory in all aspects. That’s our intention.”
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