It was certainly a special night. The award came as a pleasant surprise to Ashitiva Advocates LLP family; we had not anticipated it at all because the decision to submit our nomination was a last minute gamble. We felt ill-prepared and were doubtful as to whether we could stand against the big boys, who for avoidance of any doubt we deeply respect and from whom we are still learning a lot from. Some of the more established firms were established more than 100 years ago. You can therefore imagine our shock, disbelief and excitement when our hitherto nondescript name was called among the nominees; the disbelief took an even louder scream when the Honourable Chief Justice David Maraga declared us winner.
We are humbled and remain grateful to the Law Society of Kenya, Nairobi Branch, all our Professional Colleagues and the Chief Justice of Kenya for honouring us by bestowing upon us a title that is both exciting, as it is demanding. We aspire to carry this title with the honor that it deserves and to validate the decision of our colleagues and the vetting panel.
The number eight is considered to be a lucky number among the Chinese and other Asian cultures. In the former, the number is considered lucky because it sounds like the Chinese word that means to generate wealth, hence any property with number eight would be greatly valued by Chinese people. Other Asian cultures believe that number eight signifies harmony, peace, and balance. The Bible numerology codes number eight as the number of new beginnings. Eight is seven plus one, and since it comes just after seven, which itself signifies an end to something, it’s associated with the beginning of a new era or that of a new order.
Being crowned Law Firm of the Year 2018 as we turned eight, marked a significant milestone for us. It served as a great encouragement that our strategy is indeed working. This strategy can be summed in two words, ‘People First’. We are grateful to our clients, our colleagues, stakeholders and all our people for granting us this honour and recognition.
We have made many mistakes along the way, but learnt from them. We have also had tough seasons that defined our convictions and toughened our character. Then there were some lucky breaks and some great seasons as well, seasons that delighted our souls. This is one such season. Other than the Law Society of Kenya, we have also been recognized by international ranking firms such as Lawyer Monthly, ICFM and ACQ Global Awards as Commercial Law firm of the Year (Kenya).
At the inception of the firm, I was newly married, six months into the marriage, I had no savings, but I had a young wife who shared in my faith. My meetings with clients were held in a tiny restaurant on Kimathi Street called Burger Dome. The restaurant which has since been closed had a wing with cyber-facilities which was perfect for a startup like mine because it allowed me to work and host my clients to a cheap cup of tea, whenever I had meetings.
I would typically report to work with the staff as they arrived for their morning shift and exit as the evening shift was closing down. Three months later an accountant sublet a portion of his office to me and the rest is history. I think we have covered some significant milestone since then, yet we are still far from where we ought to be. This eighth year marks the start of a significant era that will define the next seven years of our future and lay a foundation for a corporate legacy that will outlive any of the founding partners. We are, therefore, keen to collaborate with our people to unleash creative energy like never before.
We believe that nothing will substitute investing in our people and getting the best out of every relationship. Everything else that we do including technology, business development, collaboration with other law firms in different jurisdictions, succession planning, branding and training has been hinged and will always be hinged on this fundamental focus on our people.
Through 15 client service teams, we have been able to build intimate relationships with our clients to the extent that we are often at the table when our clients are developing their own Strategic Plans. We are passionate about helping our clients achieve their goals, however ambitious and no matter how many obstacles they face. Our clients’ challenges are our challenges and we’ll do whatever it takes to help them in the right way to achieve the best possible outcome.
When accepting this award from the Honourable Chief Justice, we dedicated it to our mothers who have supported us, encouraged us and prayed for us every day. My own mother extended a loan facility of Sh15,000 (equivalent of US$ 150) to me at inception, and this went a long way in setting me up at Burger Dome. I also explained to the guests and dignitaries present on that evening that for my partners and I, who all attended village schools, being granted this award was a signal that the city had finally accepted us and allowed us to stay. We promised the Chief Justice that we would continue to be of good character.
Our desire is to build an international brand with an African soul. This intention is signified by our trademarked theme of an African warrior. The Warrior who is fearless and ready to advance and protect our clients’ interests has replaced the blind lady justice who is the typical western symbol of justice.
We are now looking to the law but also beyond the law to build an African Professional Services Advisory Group that combines experts in Law, Finance, Investment Banking, Tax, Audit and Advisory as well as Technology Media and Telecoms, under one umbrella consultancy group known as the Summit Advisory Group. We intend to offer world-class services in the African continent and beyond in much the same way as international firms offer their service in Africa on a daily basis, without hesitation.