SA’s Bowman links with Kenya’s Coulson Harney

Johannesburg firm Bowman Gilfillan has set up an association with nascent Kenyan firm Coulson Harney, with the tie-up due to take effect at the beginning of September.

Bowman Gilfillan chairman Jonathan Schlosberg said the association reflects the firm’s ambitions for pan-African coverage, adding that it cannot set up an office in Kenya due to regulatory constraints.

Coulson Harney name partners Richard Harney and Philip Coulson, currently corporate partners at Nairobi firm Kaplan & Stratton, are both Kenyan qualified.

Schlosberg added: “For a number of years we have been following a major strategy to increase our investment in the rest of African Continent.

“We are based in Johannesburg and Cape Town with a very small office in London and have helicoptered lawyers in to work with law firms in other African countries. The next step is to establish a presence in those countries.”

While Bowman Gilfillan has not been active in establishing Coulson Harney and the two firms will not share fees, Schlosberg said they will work closely together with the expectation of there being secondments between the firms in future.

At the moment Coulson and Harney are the only two lawyers signed up for the new firm, which will focus purely on corporate work, though Schlosberg said they would be looking to increase that number as soon as the firm is up and running.

“They will need to be racial and gender diverse – that’s our policy and philosophy,” Schlosberg added.

While there are no definite plans for further expansion, Schlosberg said that 100-partner Bowman Gilfillan has also interested in having a presence in Nigeria as well as Francophone Africa.