Global law firm Baker McKenzie has won the prestigious International Law Firm of the Year award at Legal Week’s African Legal Awards ceremony, held in Johannesburg on Friday 8 September 2017. The firm also won the award for Environmental, Energy and Natural Resources Team of the Year. The annual African Legal Awards recognise exceptional achievement in Africa's legal sector.
The firm won the International Law Firm of the Year Award for the second time, having last received it in 2015, at which time the judges praised the firm’s commitment to growing its presence in Africa. Baker McKenzie was one of the first international law firms to open an office in Africa over 30 years ago.
Lawyers in the firm’s offices in Johannesburg, Cairo and Casablanca work alongside Africa experts throughout the global network and in its network of African Relationship Firms to provide seamless, on-the-ground advice to clients in Africa. In the last year, the Africa team has worked on cross-border multi-jurisdictional matters involving more than 30 African countries and over 20 countries outside Africa. The firm has seen an almost 100% increase in the number of approaches from clients to pitch for work in Africa.
The firm also won the Environmental, Energy and Natural Resources Team of the Year award for its work on BHP Billiton's first-of-its-kind Forests Bond to support the Kasigau Corridor REDD Project in Kenya. The firm supported BHP Billiton on the development of a Forests Bond, co-developed in conjunction with, and issued by, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group. The Bond aims to achieve emission reductions through a combination of forest protection and community development activities, which support alternative livelihoods associated with the Wildlife Work's Kasigau Corridor REDD Project in East Kenya.
Baker McKenzie was also highly commended in the Innovation category for the Antitrust Dawn Raid App, launched earlier this year. The Dawn Raid App is a mobile application that, across 44 countries, including South Africa, provides clients experiencing a raid with real-time step-by-step guidance on their rights and obligations, as well as instant access to Baker McKenzie antitrust lawyers.
Morne van der Merwe, Managing Partner of Baker McKenzie in Johannesburg, notes, “Our fluency in working across borders, issues and practices in Africa allows us to simplify legal complexity, foresee risks others may overlook and identify commercial opportunities that many miss. This fluency makes us the African advisers of choice to some of the world's leading multinational corporations, working on the most exciting and complex transactions on the continent. Winning awards for getting this right always feels good and we are proud of our achievements.”
Gary Senior, Baker McKenzie's EMEA regional Chair said,"These awards are further proof that we are leading the way as the global law firm for Africa. Congratulations to all our people involved in the deals and more widely to all building our Africa practice."
Baker McKenzie was also recently identified as the “leading international firm for high value work across Africa” according to Acritas’ 2016 report: Sharplegal Global Elite 2016 Africa.