According to research by Africa Legal, White & Case was the fastest-growing law firm by headcount in Africa between 2019 and 2022. The firm increased its number of Africa-based employees by 177% during that period, reaching a total of 83 employees, which was significantly faster growth than other firms. Dentons was the second fastest-growing, increasing headcount by 86% to 255. South African firm Strauss Daly came in third, with headcount growing by 77% to 55. Several Nigerian firms also experienced significant growth in headcount during this period, including Babalakin & Co, G. Elias & Co, and Olaniwun Ajayi, which expanded by 74%, 64%, and 61%, respectively.
Despite its rapid growth, White & Case was only the 16th largest firm in Africa by headcount at the end of 2022. South Africa’s ENS remained the continent’s largest law firm, employing 469 lawyers. Other international firms that saw African headcount growth over this period included Allen & Overy, Clyde & Co, and Herbert Smith Freehills. However, some international firms reduced their African headcount during this period, including Norton Rose Fulbright and Baker McKenzie.
The research also highlighted a trainee retention problem in Africa, with only 55% of trainees being retained, compared to 87% in the UK. The top 50 largest firms operating in Africa increased the average number of female partners in 2022 compared to the previous year, with women making up 36.38% of African partnerships last year, compared to 35.26% in 2021.
To request a copy of the report, you can visit the Africa Legal website. The research draws on the annual Africa Top 50 report compiled by Africa Legal and Law.com International.