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Nigeria is blessed with many intelligent lawyers and as a result, there exists thousands of reputable law firms owned by Nigerians, and are located in different parts of the country. These numerous law firms have been ranked, and the ten which are considered to be topmost, with offices in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and other commercialized cities in Nigeria, are highlighted hereunder.
This group is one of the foremost commercial firms in Nigeria, and handles some of the largest and most complex transactions in the market. M & A and capital markets briefs are regular features of the firm’s deal sheet, and the team acted as local counsel to Access Bank on a USD350 million issuance of Euro-bonds listed on the LSE.
Sources are impressed by the level of skill on offer across the team and the consideration paid to practical issues: “They were open to business concerns, while clearly setting out the legal risks.”
This high-calibre firm is particularly admired for its standout capital markets practice, along with its strength in private equity and M & A work. Clients assert that the team has “some of the best legal brains in the market,” and the group is also commended for its “deal-oriented and results-driven” approach.
The firm advised the Lagos State government on a bond issuance programme, and acted for Custodian & Allied Insurance on its NGN36.8 billion merger with Crusader Nigeria. The firm’s litigation and arbitration practice represents clients such as Stanbic IBTC Bank and Endemol International in a range of disputes.
This firm is a popular choice for major corporate and commercial mandates, and also has a highly regarded dispute resolution practice. The team is “strong across the board,” and sources describe the lawyers as “really smart and very proactive.”
It handles an impressive breadth of work, including corporate advisory, tax and IP matters, and the firm frequently advises foreign investors or companies new to the Nigerian market. Litigation highlights include representing Airtel Networks Nigeria in a number of disputes concerning the sale and purchase of shares.
The strengths of this leading team span a broad range of practice areas, including private equity, M & A and financial transactions. Clients observe that its wide-ranging experience ensures top-level service on any issue it undertakes, and one source valued the fact that “I can call them with any issue.”
The firm represented UAC of Nigeria in several acquisition mandates, including advising on the proposed acquisition of a majority stake in Livestock Feeds. Other clients include IFC, Tiger Brands and SABMiller.
This firm maintains its impressive roster of prominent international clients, which engage its services on a range of commercial, IP and real estate mandates.
In one transactional highlight, the firm acted for Belgian agro-industrial group Siat on its proposed USD15 million acquisition of a 60% stake in Pamol Plantations. The team is also active on a number of PPP and PFI projects in the infrastructure development sector.
This firm earns plaudits from both clients and peers for its high quality of service: “The ethos, service and cross-section of expertise across the firm are excellent.”
The firm maintains its long-standing reputation as a top practice for energy work, as well as leading a broader range of commercial transactions. Highlights include assisting international companies with restructuring, and advising on the local aspects of international mergers.
Aelex is active across the full spectrum of contentious and non-contentious work for an impressive list of clients. In standout matters, IBM sought the firm’s advice regarding compliance with Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission directives. Another highlight is the firm’s representation of Lekkiport LFTZ Enterprise in the development of Nigeria’s first private deep sea port.
8. Elias & Co
This group frequently acts on significant local transactions as well as advising internationally renowned clients on their Nigerian concerns. It represented Aureos-Abraaj Group in the disposal of a 51% stake in the group, worth around NGN1.3 billion, to UAC of Nigeria.
The team is respected for the quality of the legal knowledge on offer and high level of customer service. One impressed source commented: “I always appreciate their timeliness and the in-depth research that they put into their work.” High-value litigation includes cases in the banking sector, and the firm advised First Bank of Nigeria on a class action regarding credit cards filed against a number of Nigerian banks by ATM customers.
The corporate and commercial team at Templars advises clients on matters including regulatory compliance, IP and tax. Foreign companies regularly seek the firm’s advice on setting up and carrying out business in Nigeria, and of late the group has advised HJ Heinz on various aspects of its local operations.
Other high-profile clients include Google, Rolls-Royce and Unilever. According to sources, the team is “proactive, commercial and driven,” and “really understands the expectations of international clients.”
This firm is experiencing a period of re-growth following the return of several partners from political positions. It handles transactional and contentious mandates and has teams dedicated to a variety of practice areas in its offices in Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt.