List of the top law firms and best lawyers in South Africa in 2022

List of the top law firms and best lawyers in South Africa in 2022

The legal profession in South Africa is quite vibrant, and expectedly so. The country is among Africa's most developed, which explains the huge demand for professional legal services. Law firms in South Africa range from full-service firms to specialist ones and include a mix of local and international firms. These practices are home to some of the best lawyers in South Africa.

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top 5 law firms in South Africa
Scrabble tiles spelling out lawyer. Photo: pexels.com, @RODNAE Productions
Source: UGC

The best lawyers and law firms in South Africa have played a great role in the country's economic, political, and social policies.

Who are the best lawyers in South Africa?

Here is a look at the top lawyers in South Africa today.

5. Jackie Midlane

Who is the highest-paid lawyer in South Africa?
Jackie Midlane. Photo: @nortonrosefulbright
Source: Instagram

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Jackie Midlane is a graduate of the University of Witwatersrand and is the current Director and Head of Banking and Finance at Norton Rose Fulbright. She has a wealth of experience in advising clients in relation to development finance, project finance, structured finance, asset finance, acquisition finance, and general banking and commercial transactions.

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  • Email: jackie.midlane@nortonrosefulbright.com
  • Location: 15 Alice Lane Sandton, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

4. Tebogo Malatji

top law firms in South Africa
Tebogo Malatji. Photo: @Tebogomkinc
Source: Twitter

Tebogo Malatji is the Managing Director at Malatji & Co. Attorneys, a law firm based in Sandton. The renowned lawyer has over 25 years of legal practice experience. His practice covers a wide range of advisory and litigation services for government officials, national and provincial departments, boards and of public entities, regulators, and major government business enterprises.

He has worked on numerous aspects of public law, the exercise of public power, and treasury regulations and directives.

  • Telephone: 011 072 2601
  • Email: tmalatji@mcinc.africa
  • Location: 114 West St, Sandown, Sandton, 2031, South Africa

3. Sally Hutton

top 5 law firms in South Africa
Sally Hutton. Photo: @webberwentzel
Source: Twitter

Sally is a managing partner at Webber Wentzel. She specializes in finance and business law, more specifically in private equity matters. She has received the Lawyer of the Year Award for Private Equity twice, in 2010 and 2018.

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Hutton is among the best legal minds on matters of merger and acquisition transactions, structuring advice, private equity funding, and shareholding agreements.

  • Telephone: +27115305228
  • Email: sally.hutton@webberwentzel.com
  • Location: ​90 Rivonia​ Road, Sandton, Johannesburg 2196

2. Des Williams

list of advocates in South Africa
Des Williams. Photo: @Werksmans
Source: Twitter

Des Williams works at Werksmans Attorneys and is widely experienced in commercial litigation and alternative dispute resolution. He has been involved in numerous large and complex litigation and arbitration matters in South Africa. He has also been named in numerous publications for his expertise in litigation, arbitration, construction law, insurance, and reinsurance.

  • Telephone: +27 11 535 8234
  • Fax: +27 11 535 8634
  • Email: dwilliams@werksmans.com

1. Odette Geldenhuys

Who is the youngest lawyer in South Africa?
Odette Geldenhuys. Photo: @CouncilPractice
Source: Twitter

Odette is a well-known full-time pro bono attorney at Webber Wentzel who focuses on public interest matters. Odette's expertise is largely in the field of public interest law, with an overarching career interest in access to justice.

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Odette is credited with founding the first pro bono clearinghouse in South Africa in 2006. She has been the recipient of numerous awards during her illustrious career in the legal industry and is widely considered the best lawyer in South Africa.

  • Telephone: +27214317290
  • Email: odette.geldenhuys@webberwentzel.com
  • Location: ​90 Rivonia​ Road, Sandton, Johannesburg 2196

The top law firms in South Africa

Here are South Africa's top law firms according to the 2022 Law Firm of the Year awards. Each firm is listed alongside the legal area in which it excelled.

11. Allen & Overy - Banking and finance law

Who is the youngest lawyer in South Africa?
Rolled up paper currency. Photo: pexels.com, @pixabay
Source: UGC

Allen & Overy is a multinational law firm and a member of the United Kingdom's Magic Circle, a small group of elite law firms. The South African branch is under the parent firm headquartered in the UK. In 2019, Allen & Overy was among the two firms to surpass the US$1 trillion in deal value. It is the world's 10th largest law firm by revenue.

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In 2014, Allen & Overy became the first Magic Circle firm to have a presence in Africa when it opened its offices in Johannesburg, South Africa.

10. Bowmans - Competition/antitrust law and labor and employment law

Bowmans is one of the leading law firms in South Africa with a massive team of experienced practitioners. The company provides a wide range of services. With eight offices in six African countries and over 400 specialist lawyers, Bowmans has become the leading legal practice on matters touching on antitrust, labor, and employment law.

9. Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr - Mining law

Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, commonly abbreviated as CDH, is a full-service corporate law firm with an extensive reach across Africa. The firm consists of more than 350 lawyers and has been in operation for over 169 years.

CDH's Africa practice saw it become the top law firm on matters related to mining law. This is quite significant since South Africa has an extremely vibrant mining industry, meaning there are always legal issues surrounding this economic sector.

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8. Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs (ENSafrica) - Tax law

ENSafrica is the largest law firm in Africa. The company currently has over 600 practitioners and has been operational for more than 100 years. ENSafrica specializes in all commercial areas of law, including tax, forensics, and intellectual property.

Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs is one of the world-famous 'Big Five' law firms in South Africa.

7. Glyn Marais - Real estate law

Glyn Marais has been one of the leading real estate law firms in South Africa since its inception in 1990. With a highly competent and specialized team, the firm has built a reputation for excellent service and an in-depth understanding of the operations of blue-chip real estate companies.

Glyn Marais focuses on property law and has extensive experience in commercial, retail, industrial, residential, and tourism sectors.

6. Herbert Smith Freehills - Project finance and development practice

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Herbert Smith Freehills is an international law firm with headquarters in Australia and the United Kingdom. The firm was formed in October 2012 as the result of a merger between Australian law firm Freehills and UK firm Herbert Smith. It is currently the 29th largest law firm in the world by revenue.

Today, Herbert Smith Freehills represents 39 of the FTSE 100 companies and is among the top 5 law firms in South Africa.

5. Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa - Insurance law

list of advocates in South Africa
Scrabble tiles with the words health insurance. Photo: pexels.com, @Olya Kobruseva
Source: UGC

Norton Rose Fulbright is an international law firm and the second-largest law firm in the United States. It is also one of the ten largest legal practices globally, by both lawyers and revenue, and has more than 3700 lawyers and other legal staff based in Europe, the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, Australia, South Africa, and the Middle East.

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The company was formed in June 2013 from the merger between UK-based Norton Rose and US-based Fulbright & Jaworski.

4. Pinsent Masons - Construction law

Pinsent Masons LLP is an international law firm with a branch in South Africa. The firm specializes in the energy, infrastructure, financial services, real estate, advanced manufacturing, and technology sectors. The law firm ranks among the top one hundred law firms in the world by turnover.

3. Spoor & Fisher - Intellectual property law

Spoor & Fisher is a specialist international intellectual property (IP) law firm focusing on providing services throughout Africa, the Middle East, and the Caribbean. The company covers all aspects of intellectual property law, including patents, due diligence, trademarks, portfolio management, copyright and designs, and commercial transactions.

2. Webber Wentzel - Corporate law and litigation

Webber Wentzel is a renowned African law firm with headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa. The firm operates in a collaborative alliance with another law firm known as Linklaters. Webber Wentzel is considered a member of the 'Big Five' law firms.

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The company was founded in 1868 and is the only large South African law firm to retain a traditional partnership organization and not incorporate into a limited liability company.

1. Werksmans Attorneys - Mergers and acquisitions law

Werksmans Attorneys is a South African law firm with offices in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Stellenbosch. The firm was established in the early 1900s and later became one of the founding members of LEX Africa, currently the oldest and largest African legal network.

The firm has recently been considered the latest a member of the 'Big Five' law firms.

How many advocates are there in South Africa?

top law firms in South Africa
A judge's gavel used in legal hearings. Photo: pexels.com, @RODNAE Productions
Source: UGC

South Africa has more than 2000 registered advocates. The list of advocates in South Africa can be found on the Legal Practice Council website.

Who is the highest-paid lawyer in South Africa?

While information about lawyers' earnings is not publicly available, professionals in this career reportedly earn between R400,000 and R3 million per year. This would put the highest earner in the region of 3 million rand annually.

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Who is the youngest lawyer in South Africa?

Zintle Baleni became the youngest person to be admitted as an attorney, conveyancer, and notary public in South Africa, aged 23 years. Baleni attended the Zonnebloem Nest Senior School in 2013 and then pursued her law studies at the University of the Western Cape (UWC).

The best lawyers in South Africa have been at the top of the profession for years now. These attorneys are well known for their knowledge, experience, and unmatched skills in litigation, arbitration, and legal consultancy. They mostly work for huge law firms that are also among the best in today's legal industry.

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