Quartet of firms merge to create regional Francophone Africa practice

Algeria, Morocco, Guinea and Ivory Coast practices join forces to form ADNA with further African expansion planned

(l-r) Salimatou Diallo, Safia Fassi-Fihri, Sydney Domoraud and Foued Bourabiat

Four law firms across North and West Africa have merged with the ambition of helping to develop the ‘continent’s next generation of lawyers’ by creating a fully integrated African law firm focused on Francophone countries.

ADNA has offices in Algeria, Morocco, Guinea and Ivory Coast, bringing together respectively Bourabiat Associés, BFR & Associés, SD Avocats and EMIRE Partners. 

With five partners and 20 other fee earners, its key practice areas will be corporate, banking and finance, projects and disputes with a particular focus on the agriculture, energy, infrastructure and mining sectors. It is a member of the pan-African law firm alliance Africa Legal Network.

The leaders of the boutiques that make up the merged firm are long-time friends, all four having spent significant parts of their careers working for leading international firms, mostly based out of Paris.

Conakry-based Salimatou Diallo, who is managing partner of the new firm, said it had taken two years to structure the deal that includes profit-sharing between the partners. She said the plan was to expand into other Francophone countries with discussions underway with two other firms, although further deals were not imminent.

She added: "We have all worked in international firms and understand the importance of having a regional platform for clients who will be attracted by our credentials and experience across a range of practice areas."

Diallo founded SD Avocats in 2013 after spending seven years at Herbert Smith Freehills’ (HSF’s) Paris office, where she was an of counsel. She has dual French/Guinean citizenship and her practice focuses on the energy and natural resources sectors in Francophone Africa.

Foued Bourabiat was at HSF in Paris at the same time as Diallo, founding his Algiers firm Bourabiat Associés in 2012. He advises investors and credit institutions on their investments and financing operations in Algeria and in the MENA region.

Fellow founder Safia Fassi-Fihri worked at Bredin Pratt, Ashurst and Gide Loyrette Nouel’s Cassablanca office before moving in-house as general counsel of Moroccan wealth management firm RMA Capital. She founded BFR & Associés in 2015.

ADNA’s quartet of founding partners is completed by Sydney Domoraud, managing partner of Abidjan-based EMIRE, which focuses on the energy, mining, infrastructure and real estate sectors. Prior to setting up EMIRE in 2017, he spent four years at Orrick, including on secondment to its London office, and then founded Orrick’s associated Abidjan firm Orrick RCI in 2014. 

Pan-African law firms remain a rarity, with most independent firms offering cross-border advice via membership of a network while many international firms continue to serve the market from desks in London and Paris.

In April, Dentons agreed to combine with Nigerian practice Adepetun Caxton-Martins Agbor & Segun to become only the  second global law firm with a presence in Africa’s largest economy. 

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