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Burundi > Legal market overview > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


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    • Happy Ntwari - Legal Solution Chambers

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The Republic of Burundi has a predominantly agriculture-based economy, with this sector representing around 40% of its GDP in 2017 and providing work for 90% of its population. The landlocked country counts coffee and tea among its primary exports and together these commodities account for over 60% of foreign exchange earnings.

Although Burundi has limited natural resources, it does boast a modest mining industry and extraction of its currently underexploited nickel, gold and platinum reserves remains a priority for the government.

Despite the investment potential of its mining sector, the country is in the grip of a political crisis that has negatively affected its economic risk profile. In 2015 President Pierre Nkurunziza, who has been in office since 2005, won a controversial third term as leader, despite laws limiting Burundian presidents to two five-year terms. His actions plunged the country into civil unrest, leading to a failed military coup and a 3.9% contraction in GDP in 2015. The economy recovered slightly in 2016 and recorded growth of 0.9%.

The country’s weakened economy has not materially impacted its compact legal market, which is comprised of nimble law firms that are well-hedged against market shocks. The two largest players in the market are Mabushi Chambers and Rubeya & Co - Advocates, where lawyers regularly handle a diverse portfolio of work.

A dominant force in the market, Mabushi Chambers is widely recognised for its ‘strong experience’ and ‘great connections’. The firm’s expertise spans all key practice areas – including corporate and commercial, banking and finance, IP, employment and dispute resolution – and it regularly acts for local, regional and multinational clients. Augustin Mabushi spearheads the firm’s international work and is highly regarded for corporate transactions and international arbitration. Alexandra Sebatigita also handles transactional work.

‘Pre-eminent Burundian law firm’ Rubeya & Co - Advocates is ‘a very resourceful practice that goes out of its way to serve its clients’. A member of DLA Piper’s Africa network, it is particularly valued for its ‘strong international-standard service’ and its ‘responsive and professional lawyers’. Chairman Willy Rubeya is noted for his infrastructure experience and recently advised Tembo Power on a PPP contract for the construction of a hydroelectric dam. Claver Nigarura heads the corporate and commercial department and is also recommended.

Tanzania-headquartered Mkono & Co. Advocates maintains an active office in Bujumbura, which leverages the firm’s enviable regional network to advise on a steady stream of cross-border matters. Senior advocate Alice Nijimbere is the key contact.

Ncuti Law Firm & Consultancy’s comprehensive practice is particularly well versed in commercial transactions, dispute resolution and employment matters. Managing partner Horace Ncutiyumuheto and labour specialist Naraguma Jean Marie are the names to note.

Shonubi, Musoke, Gilbert & Partners has a solid record in the financial institutions, mining and transport sectors. Eric Ngendahayo and managing partner Gilbert Nibigirwe are highly regarded for banking and finance and corporate transactions. Employment, IP and dispute resolution are also key pillars of the practice. The firm’s alliance with Norton Rose Fulbright equips it with significant cross-border firepower.

Established in 2015, Legal Solution Chambers receives its first ranking on the back of the growing reputation of managing partner Happy Ntwari, who, along with co-founder René-Claude Madebari, was previously with Mkono & Co. Advocates. Areas of experience include corporate and M&A, employment, IP and energy and natural resources.

IP is a mainstay at Nibitegeka Advocates which also handles international trade work, corporate and M&A and TMT-related matters. Cyriaque Nibitegeka manages the practice.

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