Are you looking for the finest lawyer to handle your case? The 2020 ranking by Chambers and Partners, a London-based firm, lists the most outstanding law firms and lawyers in more than 180 jurisdictions (countries) in the world, including Rwanda.
Chambers and Partners ranks individual lawyers based on their areas of practice, the basis of their legal knowledge and experience, their ability, their effectiveness, their client service and landmark cases litigated. The researchers also conduct interviews with key industry players.
For Rwanda, the common names such as senior lawyer Gatera Gashabana, who has been handling the most politically sensitive cases, is not on the rankings. However, some of the law firms and individuals listed are equally known.
Désiré Kamanzi ranks top in the 2020 report. He is also Head of the Rwanda branch of pan-African law firm ENSafrica, which is also ranked top in the country.
Kamanzi is recognised for his broad expertise in the corporate and commer-cial arena. He is said to have extensive experience assisting high-profile clients within the banking and finance, energy, telecommunications and mining sectors with both advisory and litigation matters.
“He has a good commercial sense and is involved in big transactions and major projects,” said sources quoted in the report.
In Rwanda, Kamanzi leads a team of more than dozen lawyers, but continentally, the firm has over 600 partners. Its local client base includes major banks and financial institutions, major telecom companies, multilateral institutions, international investors, listed and non-listed multinational corporations, government, mining houses, energy companies, and international NGOs.
Kamanzi and team worked on merger between Tigo Rwanda and Airtel Rwanda; facilitated $35m petroleum deal involving Cogebanque, SP Rwanda and Mauritius Commercial Bank; and advising the World Bank on some of its activities in Rwanda.
Kamanzi is followed by Kavaruganda Julien, who currently serves as the president of the Rwanda Bar Association and as a board member of the East Africa Law Society. He is also a founding partner of K-Solutions & Partners firm.
The third and fourth ranked lawyers are Mugisha Richard, and Mugisha Nkunda Apollo respectively – both from Trust Law Chambers. This firm is also actually among the top four in the country, according to the Chambers and Partners rankings.
Trust Law Chambers came to local prominence when it acted for the Rwanda Journalists Association (ARJ) in landmark case at the Supreme Court late last year in which several key articles, which undermined press freedom, were struck off the penal code. The same firm is defending Nsabimana Calixte alias Maj Sankara, the captured FLN rebel spokesman who is facing up to 17 charges including terrorism, murder, kidnapped and looting.
In Rwanda, the Bar has over 1,200 members with dozens of law firms. The Chambers and Partners rankings identified 18 lawyers and 9 firms as perhaps the finest in the land.
The only woman in the rankings is Gasarabwe Claudine, of Gasarabwe & Associates law firm. Gasarabwe’s name made headlines in 2009 in a highly publicized defamation case involving a local tabloid UMUVUGIZI.
The paper’s editor, Jean Bosco Gasasira, now exiled in Sweden, was dragged to court by Jean Bosco Mutangana, a former prosecutor general, and Dr Diane Gashumba, a former health minister.
Gasasira was accused of invasion of privacy and defaming Mutangana and Dr. Gashumba following a series of articles in which they were alleged to be involved in extramarital affair. Gasarabwe was Gasasira’s lawyer.
From the rankings, Gasarabwe is well regarded for her “long experience in litigation” and arbitration. She is commended for her expertise advising on commercial, business and contracts matters. The market appreciates her “expertise, experience and ability to be open to innovation.”
Others on the rankings, and well-known names in Rwanda are Mhayimana Isaïe, Kazungu Jean-Bosco, and Rutabingwa Athanase.