US law firm expands in South Africa

11 January 2012

US-based law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf has expanded its South African office with the addition of a dozen leading local lawyers as it gears up for an expansion of economic activity in the country and on the continent.

Dewey has added eight partners and four associates from local law firm Werkmans Attorneys to its existing office in Johannesburg, a move that, according to US website The American Lawyer, marks its biggest African investment yet and makes its SA office one of the largest to be opened by an international law firm.

“White & Case has seven lawyers in Johannesburg; and DLA Piper, which operates under the Swiss verein structure, is affiliated with 270-lawyer Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, one of South Africa’s largest firms,” The American Lawyer reported last week, when Dewey announced its move.

“Two UK-based firms, Norton Rose and SNR Denton, have also merged or associated with South African firms in the past two years.”

The teams joining Dewey are led by Morne van der Merwe, who headed up Werksmans’ mining and resources practice, and Wildu du Plessis, who headed up Werksmans’ banking and finance and capital markets practices.

Van der Merwe told Business Day last week that the move showed Dewey’s commitment to South Africa and the continent “and their anticipation of increased economic activity”.

Dewey & LeBoeuf chairman Steven Davis said in a statement: “The addition of this team of high quality, respected lawyers places us at the head of the market and presents exciting opportunities to grow our practice in Africa as the continent continues to become a more significant part of the global economy.”

Joseph Tato, chairman of Dewey’s Africa Practice Group, said the new team’s arrival would enable the firm to expand its focus beyond energy and project finance work into areas “such as corporate M&A, mining and natural resources, banking and financial services, corporate finance and securities and capital markets.”

SAinfo reporter