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Is Africa the new Asia?

Posted by: Laurence Simons 28/08/12

Not exactly breaking news, now: with the emerging market in Asia transforming the legal scene over the past three decades, there is a thriving legal industry across the East. That much we know. However, with the Asian market now firmly established, there's room for another continent-shaped plucky upstart, offering above-average growth for international firms willing to invest, create satellite offices or partner up with local companies. And as Huron UK director John Cussons notes, that continent could well be Africa.

"There is growing agreement among economists that Africa is on the brink of an economic take-off," said Cussons, writing for The Lawyer. And it's an opinion clearly shared by Unilever and Vodafone: both companies have invested in the burgeoning retail and telecoms opportunities across Africa, and with big multinationals comes big sums of money as well as big contractual wrangles, meaning the legal market is booming.

But those firms thinking of dabbling in an African splinter group should look to Asia for a little inspiration before diving in with a huge statement-making presence. "An analysis of the Asian legal market reveals that the most successful firms in Asia have had an on-the-ground presence for more than two decades," says Cussons. "The success of Baker & McKenzie is particularly illustrative." The firm built a name for itself over the course of three decades, enjoying the booming economy and now employing more than 1,000 employees across 14 offices in the East. If only there was some emerging continent where your law firm could pull the same trick.

Contact your nearest Laurence Simons office to discuss starting up an office in a new location, we have unrivalled experience and the geographical coverage that enables us to assisting law firms with this task