Big Five (law firms) in South Africa

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Location of South Africa

The Big Five law firms is a term informally used in South Africa to refer to those law firms which, collectively, are perceived to be the leading law firms based in South Africa.

The following firms are usually seen as comprising the "Big Five" (listed alphabetically):[discuss][1][2][3]

Name Date founded Offices Lawyers
Bowmans 1885 Cape Town, Dar es Salaam, Durban, Johannesburg, Kampala, Lilongwe, Lusaka, Moka, Nairobi (9) (July 2020)[4] 400+ (July 2020)[5]
Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr1 1853 Cape Town, Johannesburg, Stellenbosch (3) (July 2020)[6] 350+ (July 2020)[7]
Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs, trading as ENSafrica 1905 Accra, Alexandra (pro bono office), Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Kampala, Kigali, Mitchells Plain (pro bono office), Nairobi, Port Louis, Stellenbosch, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, Windhoek (14)[8] 600+ (July 2020)[9]
Webber Wentzel in alliance with Linklaters2 1868[10] Cape Town, Johannesburg (2) (July 2020)[11][12] 450+ (July 2020)[13]
Werksmans3 1917[14] Cape Town, Johannesburg, Stellenbosch (3) (July 2020)[15] 175+ (July 2020)[16]

Note1: Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr was formerly allied with DLA Piper. Its affiliation with DLA Piper ended at the end of August 2015.[17]

Note2: On 1 February 2013, the firm entered into a collaborative alliance with global law firm Linklaters.[18]

Note3: Deneys Reitz Inc, and then Norton Rose Fulbright, was formerly considered to form part of the big five law firms. Due to its decline, Werksmans, which was not part of the big five law firms, took its place.

Rankings[edit]

Chambers and Partners Global rankings[edit]

Chambers and Partners Global Rankings of the number of departments recognised as leaders in their respective fields in South Africa in 2020. This list is non-exhaustive.

Rank1 Name Band 1 Band 2 Band 3 Band 4
1 Webber Wentzel 13[19] 3[19] 4[19] None[19]
2 Bowmans 12[20] 4[21] 2[21] 1[21]
3 ENSafrica 9[22] 8[22] 2[22] None[22]
4 Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr 6[21] 10[21] 3[21] None[21]
5 Werksmans 3[23] 7[23] 4[23] 2[23]
Allen & Overy South Africa 1[24] 2[24] 2[24] 1[25]
Clyde & Co South Africa 1[26] None[26] 2[26] None[26]
Adams & Adams 1[25] None[25] None[25] None[25]
Spoor & Fisher 1[27] None[27] None[27] None[24]
Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa None[28] 6[28] 2[28] 3[28]
Fasken Martineau South Africa None[29] 2[29] 1[29] 3[29]
Herbert Smith Freehills South Africa None[30] 1[30] None[30] 4[30]
Shepstone & Wylie None[31] 1[31] None[31] None[31]
Baker McKenzie South Africa None[32] None[32] 4[32] 4[32]
DLA Piper South Africa None[33] None[33] 2[33] None[33]
Fluxmans None[34] None[34] None[34] 3[34]
Knowles Husain Lindsay None[35] None[35] None[35] 1[35]
Lawtons Africa None[36] None[36] None[36] None[36]

Note1: Based on Band 1 rankings.

Who's Who Legal Global 100[edit]

Law firms included in the Global 100 aren't assigned a specific ranking.

Year Firm3
2013 ENSafrica[37]
2013, 2014[38] Webber Wentzel[39]

Note3: firms listed alphabetically

Who's Who Legal South African Law firm of the year[edit]

Year Firm
2015 Webber Wentzel[39][40]
2013 Webber Wentzel
2012 Webber Wentzel[41]
2011 Webber Wentzel[41]

Midsized law firms[edit]

Firms with more than 50 attorneys are generally viewed as midsize law firms.[42][43]

Name Founded (South Africa) No. of offices (South Africa) No. of attorneys (South Africa)
Adams & Adams 1908[44] 4 (22 associated offices in the rest of Africa) (July 2020)[45] 138 (July 2020)[46]
Fairbridges Wertheim Becker 1812[47] 2 (July 2020)[48] 51 (July 2020)[49]
Fasken Martineau South Africa (formerly Bell Dewar) 1901[50] 1 (July 2020)[51] 67 (July 2020)[52]
Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa1 1922 3 (July 2020)[53] 75 (July 2020)[54]
Shepstone & Wylie 1872[55] 5 (July 2020)[56] 69 (July 2020)[57]
Spoor & Fisher 1920[58] 4 (July 2020)[59] 94 (July 2020)[60]
STBB - Smith Tabata Buchanan Boyes 1900[61] 11 (July 2020)[62] 91 (July 2020)[63]

Note1: On 1 June 2011, Deneys Reitz Inc joined UK based firm Norton Rose.[64] Deneis Reitz, and then Norton Rose Fulbright, was formerly considered to form part of the big five law firms. Due to its decline, Werksmans, which was formerly outside of the big five law firms, took its place.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "Africa's top Corporate Lawyers Retrieved 4 March 2010". Africanbusinessreview.co.za. Archived from the original on 14 November 2010. Retrieved 4 March 2011.
  3. ^ "Assets" (PDF). Dnaeconomics.com.
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  9. ^ Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs About Retrieved 9 July 2020 https://www.ensafrica.com/about-us/
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  13. ^ Chambers and Partners Webber Wentzel Retrieved 9 July 2020 https://chambers.com/law-firm/webber-wentzel-global-2:3753
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  35. ^ a b c d Chambers & Partners Knowles Husain Lindsay Retrieved 9 July 2020 https://chambers.com/law-firm/knowles-husain-lindsay-inc-global-2:131820
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  64. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 January 2011. Retrieved 31 December 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Ogilvy Renault and Deneys Reitz to join Norton Rose Group Retrieved 31 December 2010