Rivalry heats up as partners in top law firm part ways - Beaking Kenya News

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Sunday, 8 September 2019

Rivalry heats up as partners in top law firm part ways

 Fred Ojiambo, Kaplan & Stratton,
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On August 29, Kaplan & Stratton, one of Kenya’s premier law firms, took out space in the local dailies to announce “changes within the firm”.
According to senior partner Fred Ojiambo, who signed off the statement, the changes were with regard to the firm’s partnership structure and took effect from Wednesday, August 28.
In the same statement, Dr Ojiambo announced that four partners, Nigel Shaw, Binti Shah, Mahesh Acharya and Amar Grewal-Thethy had retired from the firm.
Then on September 5, exactly a week after Kaplan’s senior partner’s statement, the four who it had been announced had left had their own announcement to make.
“Nigel Shaw, Binti Shah, Mahesh Acharya and Amar Grewal-Thethy, advocates of the High Court of Kenya, have formed a Kenyan legal practice under the name NBMA Advocates LLP,” the statement in the dailies reads.
Not only were they announcing the formation of NBMA, which apparently are the initials of their first names, but even had a bigger announcement. Nascent as NBMA is, it was partnering with ENSafrica, Africa’s largest law firm.
“NBMA has joined forces with ENSafrica, Africa’s largest law firm with the intention of providing clients with reach across Sub-Saharan Africa. This move will expand both firms’ offering in East Africa, across the continent itself, and will further open up the investment gateway into Africa,” NBMA’s statement reads
In a statement, ENSafrica says the coming together with NMBA “means the firms have full coverage across Sub-Saharan Africa, an important factor for both local and international companies doing business in Africa and using Kenya as a hub.”
“The possibilities are enormous,” said Nigel Shaw. “We will now be in a position to offer deep expertise across Africa, which is rare, and something clients look for when doing business on the continent.”
The resignation of four senior lawyers — who have been at Kaplan & Stratton for a combined 76 years — saw tongues wagging amid speculation that there was a major fallout among the partners at Kaplan & Stratton leading to the four — Shaw, Shah, Acharya and Grewal-Thethy — to bolt out and form a new company.
“Partners don’t just resign to form a rival company. It is rare,” a source at Kaplan & Stratton told the Sunday Nation.
The ENSafrica partnership reportedly could have played a major role in the eventual break-up. When they could not agree on the partnership with the firm, the four took off and formed their own company.
The exit of the four still leaves Kaplan with Dr Ojiambo as a senior partner and 16 others.
Neither Dr Ojiambo nor Mr Shaw, who is the managing partner of the new law firm, responded to our request for comments.
Reacting to the split, lawyer Peter Wanyama in a social media post opined that competition was only getting tougher for Kaplan & Stratton. “Kaplan & Stratton has ‘given birth' to many law firms/lawyers. But it still remains the most prestigious law firm in Kenya. But (another but) it has heavy competition from HHM (Dentons Hamilton Harrison & Matthews), Coulson, Oraro, MM (Mohamed & Muigai Advocates), A & K (Anjarwalla & Khanna), IKM (Iseme, Kamau & Maema Advocates) and its newest baby (NBMA),” Mr Wanyama observed.
Kaplan & Stratton is one of the oldest and most prestigious law firms in the country today. It was established in 1938.
Aside from NBMA partnership with ENSafrica, recent big name merger involved Hamilton Harrison & Matthews – which was founded in 1902 – when it merged with Dentons, the largest law firm in the world, in October 2018 to create Dentons Hamilton Harrison & Matthews.

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