Baker & McKenzie unveils Casablanca launch in African push

Baker & McKenzie is set to launch an office in Casablanca next month with a four-lawyer team from French firm August & Debouzy.

The US firm has announced its second African office opening in three months, with the 1 August Morocco launch following the firm’s hire of defunct Dewey & LeBoeuf’s Johannesburg team earlier this year (29 May 2012).

Casablanca has seen an influx of foreign firms in the past year, with three UK firms announcing Morocco launches in the space of two weeks last year.

Allen & Overy launched in Casablanca last July (20 July 2011), closely followed by Clifford Chance (25 July 2011) and Norton Rose (28 July 2011).

It is also the US firm’s third office on the continent, which has attracted increased attention from international firms in the past year on the basis of its potentially lucrative natural resources opportunities, with Bakers now claiming to have the most extensive African practice on offer.

The launch will be led by corporate partner Kamal Nasrollah, who joins the firm from France’s August & Debouzy, where he currently splits his time between Paris and Casablanca. Nasrollah is expected to bring three lawyers with him to the US firm.

Bakers executive committee chairman Eduardo Leite said in a statement: “We are deeply committed to Africa and to clients who do business on this fast-rising continent. Africa now accounts for almost a quarter of the world’s foreign direct investment. This strong Casablanca team, together with our highly regarded teams in Cairo and Johannesburg, further enhances our ability to help clients navigate with confidence in the region.”

Nasrollah added: “Baker & McKenzie’s global platform is unrivaled, and the firm’s commitment to high-growth markets and quality advice makes this an exceptional opportunity for our team.  We will be working closely with our new colleagues as, together, we open doors for clients in this vibrant market.”

Bakers launched its first African base in Cairo in 1985.