KO Associates was named Specialist Law firm of the Year at the African Legal Awards for 2020 and, in this interview, Managing Partner Crispin Odhiambo and Senior Partner Stephen Kiptinness explain how they steered their firm through one of the most challenging times in modern history to achieve this accolade.
Crispin is also the Lead Partner in the Projects, Energy and infrastructure Department as well as the Corporate and Finance department while Stephen is the Lead Partner in the Technology and Intellectual Property Practice.
What sets the firm apart, Stephen says, is how they strive to give clients a small firm feel which means the attention given to any challenge is intensive and focused.
“We look at a problem up, down and sideways – not just from the client’s perspective but from the market perspective,” he says, “eventually we understand the matter as if we are part of the client’s business.” This means the firm is able to offer advisory support that helps a business “move to the next level”.
Crispin elaborates saying that as an African law firm they have to think internationally – or at least regionally – because that is the way their clients are thinking.
“Businesses are wanting to expand their reach. Whereas in the past it was ‘the north’ (Europe, the US and, lately, Asia) looking to come into Africa, this has swung round with African business looking outward.”
Stephen says advances in technology have raised the bar in Africa as local clients demand a higher standard of service – on a par with what they are used to in other markets.
What is also driving this reaching out is the African Continental Free Trade Agreement which was seeing an integration of African markets.
The discussion moves on to cover the impact and subsequent bouncing back from Covid-19 and how Africa is back to business as usual while Europe and Britain are still grappling with the crisis.
Stephen says the pandemic has been an opportunity to take stock and, while businesses “hit pause”, many continued growing but have emerged leaner and, in many instances, more efficient.
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