BLP, Eversheds, Ince join Law Soc trade mission to Nigeria

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), Eversheds and Ince & Co are among 18 firms accompanying a Law Society delegation to Nigeria to promote English and Welsh law firms.

The trade mission is led by Law Society president Andrew Holroyd and coincides with the third annual Nigerian Bar Association’s Section on Business Law Conference in Abuja, bringing participants into contact with hundreds of lawyers from Nigeria and West Africa.

Holroyd said: “This trade mission is another step towards developing further collaboration between the UK and Nigeria and maximising the potential of the recent economic progress.

“Law firms of all sizes will benefit from the networking opportunities specifically tailored to suit their interests.”

Nigeria ended decades of military rule eight years ago, and has since reformed its justice system and emerged as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

The outcome of the delegation will be watched closely by other UK firms that are banking on emerging markets to tide them over the market downturn. Of particular interest to foreign law firms in Nigeria are opportunities in the project finance, PPP, oil and gas and telecoms markets.

The BLP group on the delegation was led by fraud specialist Segun Osuntokan, who joined the firm from DLA Piper earlier this year (The Lawyer, 28 January 2008).

Osuntokan said: “I’m going because there are going to be some good networking opportunities. For most City firms sub-Saharan Africa has been on the radar for three or four years, and Nigeria is more on the radar than it was because of reforms.” Other firms in attendance include small and medium-sized practices, as well as lawyers from the London office of Los Angeles-based O’Melveny & Myers.

The other firms are: Adesemowo & Co, Andrews, Audu & Co, A Williams & Co, Crowther, Daniel & Partners, Doves, Fairfields, Hackman, Jeffrey Green Russell, Paragon Law, Yvonne Brown & Co, and London firm Webster Dixon, whose name partner Michael Webster started the Black Solicitors Network in 2006.

Law Society policy adviser for Europe, the Middle East and Africa Lucy Hicks said: “Most of the people coming on the trade mission have some kind of connection with Nigeria already that they are seeking to expand.”

The Law Society already has links with the Nigerian bar via the British Nigerian Law Forum – an organisation it set up for Nigerian lawyers in the UK that has 500 members.

Holroyd will chair sessions and share a platform with former UN secretary general Kofi Annan at an opening address to conference delegates.