Norton Rose becomes latest UK firm to confirm Casablanca launch plans

Norton Rose is set to open an office in Casablanca, making it the third top 10 UK firm to announce a Moroccan launch in the last two weeks.

The office, which will open in September, marks the firm’s second foray into the African continent this year, after its merger with South Africa’s Deneys Reitz went live on 1 June.

It will be headed up by the firm’s Africa group head, Alain Malek, who is based in Paris but will spend around two thirds of his time in the North Africa region. Norton Rose is planning to relocate two Moroccan national associates from Paris to the new office as full-time lawyers on the ground.

The base will focus around Norton Rose’s key industry sectors – financial institutions, energy and infrastructure – which the firm highlighted as expected areas of growth in the region. It also said the office would allow it to further develop the Francophone African practice that the firm has had for 10 years.

Norton Rose deputy managing partner Tim Marsden (pictured) said: “We are already world leaders in Africa and extremely well-established on the continent. We have been very active in the North African market for some years and Casablanca provides a further focus for our existing practice in that region.

“The Casablanca proposal is not in reaction to recent market announcements, but has been some months in development. This move is not accelerated but is a natural progression of our number one Africa business.”

Malek added: “Even before the addition of Norton Rose South Africa, we were a leading player in Morocco and Francophone Africa. We have extremely knowledgeable lawyers in Paris and London, and internationally.”

Norton Rose’s merger with Deneys Reitz earlier this year handed the firm Africa bases in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg as well as an associate office in Dar Es Salaam.

The news comes after Clifford Chance confirmed that it will launch in Morocco later this year with the relocation of a Paris partner, while Allen & Overy is opening in Casablanca in September with the hire of a team of local lawyers from France’s Gide Loyrette Nouel.

Meanwhile, Eversheds announced this March that it had secured a Morocco presence via a cooperation agreement with former Eversheds associate Mohamed Oulkhouir, who established his own