27 Jan 2021

DLA Piper Africa appoints new managing partner to maintain 'strong progress' in the region

Current Middle East managing partner Peter Somekh replaces the outgoing David Church

Africa from space

By Anton Balazh; Shutterstock

DLA Piper has named Dubai-based restructuring lawyer Peter Somekh as managing partner of its Africa business, replacing David Church who retired from the firm’s partnership last year.

Somekh will take on the role in addition to his current leadership positions as managing partner for the Middle East, as well as global co-chair of the firm’s restructuring practice. London-based Church will stay on as a consultant and support Somekh’s transition into the role.

James Kamau, chair of DLA Piper Africa, said: “We are thrilled to have Peter lead us in the next phase of our journey as we continue to work with businesses and governments around the world to realise the opportunities offered by Africa.”

He added: “Under David’s leadership we have built a unique platform that has positioned us at the forefront of the market and laid a solid foundation for future growth.”

Church had spent more than two decades steering DLA Piper’s Africa business. The firm now has a presence in 20 African countries, mostly through its partnerships with local firms such as Olajide Oyewole in Nigeria and IKM in Kenya. It also has more than 200 of its own Africa-focused lawyers spread across its offices in Johannesburg and Casablanca.

Charles Severs, DLA Piper’s managing director for Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, said: “Africa is a strategically important region for our clients and our firm as a whole. We have made strong progress in recent years and our priority is to strengthen and sustain that momentum. Peter has a strong leadership track record, a relentless focus on clients and is well connected within the global firm.”

Elsewhere in Africa, Nigerian firm Aluko & Oyebode this month announced a leadership reshuffle as its co-founder Gbenga Oyebode stepped down as chair, replaced by former managing partner Kofo Dosekun. Finance specialist Reginald Udom replaced her as the firm’s new managing partner. Oyebode will remain at the firm as ‘of counsel’, as well as taking up a role as chairman of the Nigerian unit of British healthcare company PZ Cussons.