Bowman Gilfillan adds Botswana to Africa network

South African firm Bowman Gilfillan has formed an association with Botswanan firm Bookbinder Business Law, as it seeks further growth opportunities for its Africa Group.

Bookbinder was established in 2010 by Jeffrey Bookbinder, a Canadian-born lawyer who has worked in Botswana for two decades. He was formerly a partner at Botswanan firm Collins Newman & Co.

Botswana is the fifth country for the Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group. The network also has offices in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda as well as South Africa and an association with Nigerian firm Udo Udoma & Bela-Osagie. Although the member firms of the group retain their independent identity due to regulatory restrictions, they operate as an integrated practice across the sub-Saharan region.

Group head Jonathan Lang said Botswana was one of several countries on Bowman Gilfillan’s radar. “It’s a small country and a fairly small economy, but there’s a lot of South African investment there,” he said, pointing to projects, natural resources and banking and finance work in particular.

He said Bookbinder was one of “only a small number of good corporate commercial lawyers” in Botswana.

Lang added that the group was exploring opportunities in a number of other countries, including Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe, with some jurisdictions easier to open in than others.

In a statement Bookbinder said he was attracted by the group’s vision of being a leading pan-African legal practice.

This week (1 October 2013) UK firm Eversheds announced it was beefing up its Africa strategy with the launch of a pan-Africa network and plans to launch in five countries on the continent.

For more on the growth in Africa, see our recent East Africa special report, Fuels paradise.