Local offices not right for African expansion says Freshfields partner

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Local offices not right for African expansion says Freshfields partner
While many international law firms are opening offices in Africa, one Magic Circle firm is choosing an alternative route to cover the continent.

Freshfields is opting to maintain and grow its current network of local firms rather than open its own offices on the African continent, as it believes it can better cover the region that way.

“Creating the right solution for our clients is about more than opening an office in one or two jurisdictions. We do not think that doing so would then allow us to cover all of Africa,” Shawn de Kinderen, co-head of Freshfield’s Africa practice told African Law Business.

He added that if the firm was to open an office in Johannesburg for example, it would still need to find local firms in other jurisdictions in the region for the kind of multi-jurisdiction work it is known for.

Amsterdam-based de Kinderen also noted that opening select local offices in Africa could harm its relationship with the local firms it currently works with.
Women, minorities saw slight increase in law firms last year
Women and minorities made up a slightly increased proportion of law firm partners in 2016 according to the US National Association for Law Placement.

The organisation, which tracks employment in the legal profession, reported that women comprised 22.13 per cent of partners in law firms, up from 21.46 per cent in 2015. Minorities saw an increase to 8.05 per cent from 7.52 per cent.

For associates, women made up 45 per cent and minorities 22.72 per cent, again slightly higher than in 2015.

“While it is encouraging to see small gains in most areas this year,” James G. Leipold, executive director of the association told the New York Times. “The incredibly slow pace of change continues to be discouraging.”

Generally, larger law firms fared better for diversity than smaller ones.
Private equity capabilities boosted for international firm in Asia-Pac
The Asia-Pacific region of international firm Mayer Brown has boosted its private equity and fund formation capabilities with the hire of an experienced lawyer from Deacons.

Robert Woll has joined Mayer Brown JSM with three decades of experience and focuses his practice on private equity fund formation and investment management matters. 
Trump backs Wall Street lawyer for regulator role
A Wall Street lawyer is president-elect Doald Trump’s choice to head the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Walter J. Clayton comes from the corporate world, differing in that respect from recent appointments who have been from regulatory or enforcement background.

The nomination cements Trump’s pledge to cut business regulation but is controversial as Clayton has represented some of the organizations that he would be required to police.