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March 1, 2011 5:28 PM

SNR Denton Expands in Africa

Posted by Claire Zillman

SNR Denton added ten associate-firms in Africa, increasing its presence to 21 countries and giving it the largest footprint of any international firm on the continent.

The firm, which has its own office in Cairo, said last week that its new associations cover Angola, Botswana, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, and Sao Tome e Principe.

"Our clients have been requesting a larger platform in Africa," says Jeffrey Krilla, cochair of SNR Denton's Africa Committee and a member of the firm’s public law and policy strategies practice. 

Angola, for instance, is on the radar of major oil players because of its reputation as a huge energy exporter, Krilla says.

"Angola's economy is based on the nation's natural resources, and it's been booming since the country's civil war ended" in 2002, says Krilla, a former senior State Department official who spent much of his government career in Africa. 

The firm's reasons for partnering with associate firms in other locations, such as Mauritius, are a bit more niche.

"Mauritius is a small island in the Indian Ocean. We wanted a presence there because it's a gateway to finance in India," Krilla says. 

Many of the new associate-firms have already practiced alongside SNR Denton lawyers as local counsel on matters in Africa.

"We've worked with a lot of these firms for many years," Krilla says. "We just wanted to finalize a formal relationship with them."

Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal and Denton Wilde Sapte both had their own African practices before they merged to form SNR Denton in May 2010, says Krilla, who joined Sonnenschein from the State Department in 2009. About 300 lawyers are associated with the firm's African practice globally, he says. 

Krilla says recent uprisings in Egypt, Libya, and elsewhere in the region haven't deterred the firm's expansion plans. "Instability is always a concern," he says, "but we plan to ride out the turmoil."

The new associations will complement the key practice areas SNR Denton has already established on the continent: energy, transportation infrastructure, and telecommunications.

"We're helping international companies gain a foothold in Africa, and we're also working with African companies that are interested in expanding to places like Asia," he says. 

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