Bowmans overhauls management board as it eyes pan-Africa growth

Big Five firm appoints Africa-wide department heads as Alan Keep reappointed as managing partner

Alan Keep Image courtesy of Bowmans

South African law firm Bowmans has shaken up its management board and reappointed managing partner Alan Keep for another five-year term as it moves to grow across the continent.

The firm – the third largest in Africa by head count after ENS and DLA Piper Africa with around 420 lawyers – has appointed a trio of Johannesburg-based partners to serve as Africa-wide department heads. Allen Leuta will head the banking and finance department, Lusanda Raphulu the dispute resolution team and Tholinhlanhla Gcabashe will head up corporate/M&A.

Mining sector head Charles Young, who works out of Johannesburg, will be responsible for clients, while Nairobi based partners John Syekei and Paras Shah will represent East Africa and focus on the Kenyan practice and supporting the finance function across the firm respectively.  

They will be joined by group CFO Helen Harding, group COO Richard Smith and talent partner Tammy Beira, Bowmans said.  

Keep said of the leadership shakeup: “In setting ourselves up for future growth, we have considered our current size and African reach, and have looked to increase the representation of partners from outside South Africa and to increase collaboration across departments and borders for the benefits of our clients.”

Firm chairman and senior partner, Ezra Davids, added: “I can’t think of a better team to take us forward.  

“During the past decade, Bowmans has grown from a medium-sized South African law firm into an African powerhouse with connections across the globe. I believe that this blend of highly regarded leaders is going to place us in an even stronger position to take Bowmans through the next five years.”

Rounding out the leadership shakeup is Dr Wilbert Kapinga, who helped establish Bowmans’ presence in Tanzania seven years ago and has moved into the role of senior partner for Tanzania, making way for Michael Strain to become managing partner of the firm’s Tanzanian practice.

Davids commented: “Wilbert has done a stellar job in growing our practice in Tanzania – in fact, Bowmans was recently named Chambers Law Firm of the Year in that country. We thank him for his service thus far and look forward to much more from him in his new role.  

“Congratulations also to Michael on his promotion. We are well placed to do well in Tanzania and are excited about the prospects this jurisdiction offers to us.”

News of the leadership changes follow Bowmans expanding into Namibia at the start of this month after joining forces with 17-lawyer Windhoek-based firm Koep & Partners. The firm now has nine locations across Africa.  

The firm also promoted 13 lawyers to partner last month across South Africa, Zambia, Kenya and Tanzania and bolstered its business rescue, restructuring and insolvency capabilities in Johannesburg in January with the hire of a four-partner team from Big Five rival Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr. 

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