New firm eyes developing economies

Although France’s biggest firms keep getting bigger, some smaller outfits do emerge from time to time. The latest to appear is three-partner boutique APA Partners.

APA has been founded by three university friends whose paths split after graduation. Thierry Aballéa was general counsel of communications giant Belgacom, later joining Coudert Frères and most recently Lefèvre Pelletier & Associés.

Xiaoman Pang’s route to APA took her via Ashurst, while Yama Akbar was previously an associate with Ernst & Young Société d’Avocats.

Akbar told The Lawyer that APA will stand out for the range of international services it can offer, thanks to the multilingual skills of the new firm’s lawyers.

Aballéa speaks English and Spanish in addition to French, and practises corporate and IP/IT law; Pang is fluent in Chinese and English and focuses on private equity and corporate work; and Akbar is possibly the only Afghan lawyer practising in France, meaning he can add Pashto, Farsi and international restructuring to the list.

“We’re not a traditional French law firm. We’re trying to do something new,” Akbar added, explaining that APA is planning to target developing economies such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and China.

It must be the best-placed firm in the market to do so.