Global law firm Baker McKenzie has announced the appointment of Bruce Schubach as the Firm’s Director of Africa Operations, effective 1 January 2021. Bruce will oversee the continued implementation of the Firm’s Africa strategy, as the continent gears up for its recovery and renewal post COVID-19.
 
“The Firm’s Africa strategy - to be the global law firm of choice in Africa - is in line with Baker McKenzie’s global strategy and reputation as the top firm for cross-border, high value emerging markets deals. The Firm has a track record of success in emerging markets and is the leading international law firm in Asia-Pacific and Latin America,” said Esteban Raventos, a member of the Firm's Global Executive Committee and chair of the EMEA region at Baker McKenzie.
 
Wildu du Plessis, Head of Africa for Baker McKenzie noted further that businesses operating in Africa are increasingly requesting that African personnel be a key element of their Africa-based work.
 
“The Firm has more than 40 years' experience operating in Africa, having advised on some of the continent’s most important transactions over the last few years. Baker McKenzie has three offices in Johannesburg, Cairo and Casablanca, which employ more than 100 lawyers on the ground in Africa. These lawyers work alongside Africa-focused lawyers in key global locations such as the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East, China and the Americas, which act as hubs for the Firm’s Africa work. In addition, the Firm has a well-developed and extensive network of Africa Relationship Firms in jurisdictions where it does not have an office,” he said.
 
Bruce Schubach, who has been based in the Johannesburg office of the Firm in his role as Chief Operating Officer since 2015, noted, “The next few years are expected to provide both immense challenges and exciting opportunities for the continent and those who invest in it. To be successful in a post-pandemic environment, law firms must be responsive to changing client needs and be able to partner with clients in a commercial and collaborative manner, using on-the-ground knowledge, and global and local expertise to understand vastly different individual markets across the continent.
 
“Adopting a client mindset is essential to provide specific tailor-made solutions and to be able to identify new opportunities for our clients’ growth in challenging times. As lawyers, we must be able to apply rapidly changing regulatory data and intelligence to turn complexity into certainty while working in multijurisdictional teams that can transact fluently across multiple borders. This requires us to be flexible in our approach, using the best innovation and technology to solve challenges, speed up client transactions, and reduce costs in the process. To partner with the best organisations in Africa, we must also fully embrace diversity and inclusion, champion sustainability and ensure meaningful engagement with our local communities. These issues form the operational foundation of the Firm’s growth strategy in Africa,” he said.
 
Du Plessis said, “With more than 18 years of experience in African legal work, Bruce is the ideal person to oversee and further implement our Africa growth strategy.
 
Raventos added, “Market disruption is now an accepted reality for businesses in Africa, as new competition and technologies drive the pace of change faster than ever before. Our clients in Africa want a new type of lawyer who is prepared to lead, differentiate and adapt in a constantly changing world. We look forward to working closely with Bruce on the operational elements of our Africa strategy, to ensure that we fully embrace our role as the new lawyers for the new world.”
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