KAA admits 8 new partners as top law firms embrace mergers

Eight new partners have been admitted at Kampala Associated Advocates (KAA), the law firm announced on April 7. The development fits into the current trend of law firms merging to offer a wide range of services.

According to the firm’s statement issued Friday afternoon, the new admissions are meant to inject “renewed energy” into the 17-year-old establishment.

Interviewed at the weekend, Joseph Matsiko, a senior partner at KAA, said the new partners will help consolidate the firm’s position “as a market leader in the region.”

“We believe that we are now going to continue providing efficient services locally as well as internationally,” Matsiko said, adding, “With these young people and their skills, we are also looking at the long term…”

Among the eight new partners, the biggest acquisitions are Elison Karuhanga and Zulaika Mirembe Kasajja who have been partners at Karuhanga, Kasajja & Company Advocates.

The youthful Elison now joins his father, Elly Karuhanga, at KAA. Elison first stepped into the national spotlight during last year’s former prime minister Amama Mbabazi’s presidential election petition at the Supreme court, which challenged President Museveni’s election. During the hearing, Elison injected energy, innovation and quick thinking into the Electoral Commissions’ legal team.

During the cross examination of EC Boss Badru Kiggundu by Mbabazi’s lawyers, Karuhanga shielded him from tripping over tricky questions. One skill Elison brings to the table at KAA is his expertise in oil and gas, plus mining. He obtained a Chevening scholarship from the British High Commission and studied oil and gas law at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.

Karuhanga also worked at Ashurst LLP, a leading international law firm with considerable experience in the energy sector. He also represents the rich Madhvani family.

BUCKING A TREND

The absorption of Karuhanga and Kasajja Company Advocates into KAA is a strategic move, according to legal minds that we interviewed for this story. The merger boosts the firms’ breadth and/or depth of capability – in terms of legal expertise or broaden the client base and enhance each firm’s market standing and reputation.

Mergers are also often considered if management believes there is potential to create a stronger platform to meet the growing global needs of clients and use their enhanced capabilities to attract new clients.

Indeed, in announcing the new admissions to the firm, managing partner David Mpanga [No relation to David Mpanga of AF Mpanga and Co. Advocates], said the eight partners were taking up stewardship at a firm that aspires to provide leadership in the East African region.

“Welcoming these partners… is testimony that we are on course to sustain our vision of being leaders in the legal services market and a world-class law firm of choice in the East African region. We trust that they will bolster the firm through their hard work and diligence,” Mpanga said.

According to the statement, others promoted to partnership from within KAA are Jet John Tumwebaze, Augustine Obilil Idoot, and Bruce Musinguzi; as well as associate partners Isaac Newton Kyagaba, Dennis Otatiina and Pearl Nyakabwa.

Peter Kabatsi, a senior partner at KAA, said the firm was pleased to announce the infusion of “renewed energy.”

“The KAA promise is to provide our clients with high-quality legal solutions delivered by our top-notch people while consistently creating value for the firm and for our society. Today, once again, we are presenting clear evidence that we are suitably equipped to deliver on this promise,” he said.

Kabatsi, a former solicitor general and director of public prosecutions, said promotions are “evidence that hard work within professional law firms pays off career development.”

Elly Karuhanga, another senior partner, welcomed the partners and expressed optimism that they will bring “fresh energy into the firm.”

“We have always been deliberate when we take on lawyers at any level at KAA,” Karuhanga, a former MP, said. “These eight professional firebrands are a gifted and talented lot that will excite not only other talents that will be joining us in the future but will serve our current and future clients with the depth and attention that is required of a lawyer by a client. This will positively and profoundly change the character of our firm, KAA.”

According to records, KAA was established in 2001 following a merger of four major legal firms. The founding partners were Bart Katureebe, a former attorney general who is now chief justice; Sam Mayanja, who served as secretary of the Uganda Development Bank for over a decade; Oscar Kambona, who headed and managed the Uganda Tax Bureau; and Elly Karuhanga, who is also honorary consul general of the Republic of Seychelles to Uganda.

The firm’s other partners include Kabatsi, Dr Charles Kallu Kalumiya, former in-house general counsel for non-refugee legal matters of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and honorary consul of the Republic of Malawi to Uganda; David Mpanga, former Legal Services manager with PricewaterhouseCoopers and Matsiko, former director of Civil Litigation in the attorney general’s chambers.

Over the years, KAA has positioned itself as an NRM-leaning law firm, having defended the election of President Museveni in the Supreme court in 2001, 2006 and 2016. The firm also defended Museveni in a suit filed by the exiled Ugandan journalist, Dr Jesse Mashate, who accused the president in his individual capacity of causing him loss of business.

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