Baker & McKenzie, Anjarwalla & Khanna and South African Reserve Bank among victors at African Legal Awards

Baker & McKenzie, leading Kenyan firm Anjarwalla & Khanna and the legal department at South African Reserve Bank were among the main winners at the African Legal Awards, which were held last night in South Africa (16 October).

Bakers saw off competition from a host of leading firms, including Allen & Overy, Norton Rose Fulbright and White & Case, to be named International Law Firm of the Year at the ceremony, which was attended by 250 lawyers from private practice and in-house teams.

The cream of the African legal community was out in force to celebrate the achievements of Africa’s lawyers at the awards, which were hosted by Legal Week in association with the Corporate Lawyers Association of South Africa (CLASA) at The Wanderers Club in Johannesburg.

It was an excellent night for Bakers, which also secured the hotly contested Banking, Finance and Restructuring Team of the Year category, and was joint winner of the CSR Award for its work on a range of projects, including the provision of training for the Tanzanian Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau.

Anjarwalla was named African Law Firm of the Year in the large firm category after the judges praised it for being the ‘beating heart’ of the Africa Legal Network (ALN), an alliance of independent firms set up by Anjarwalla in 2004.

Highly commended in this category was Linklaters’ South Africa alliance partner, Webber Wentzel, which also won Litigation and Dispute Resolution Team of the Year.

Meanwhile, Life Healthcare Group secured the Legal Department of the Year – Small Team award, with South African Reserve Bank winning the large team category.

Pieter Badenhorst, of agricultural services and processing giant AFGRI, was named General Counsel of the Year.

A strong showing for South African firms saw Bowman Gilfillan win the IP and Competition and Regulatory awards, while ENSafrica was named Employment Law Team of the Year.

Top Ghanaian firm AB & David was also celebrating after receiving two awards: African Law Firm of the Year (Small Practice); and the Diversity, Transformation and Economic Empowerment Award.

“This is an African firm that is truly committed to quality and has shown an ability to consistently deliver legal services that meet client expectations,” said the judges.

The Innovation Award went to Barefoot Law, a not-for-profit group, for a project to use new media to provide legal advice to isolated communities in Uganda.

Alongside Bakers, the international firms to receive awards were DLA Piper, which secured the TMT award fresh from launching its first African office in Casablanca, Hogan Lovells (property, and transportation and infrastructure) and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (M&A).

The night saw a total of 23 awards handed out. The event culminated in the presentation of the CLASA Achievement Award to the leading South Africa judge The Honourable Judge Dikgang Moseneke, Deputy Chief Justice of South Africa.

The judging panel, which was chaired by CLASA chief executive Alison Lee, included Shibishi Maruatona, general counsel of Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa, and Vinodh Jaichand, head of the school of law at the University of the Witwatersrand.

The winners in full:

Corporate Lawyers Association of South Africa (CLASA) Achievement Award
The Honourable Judge Dikgang Moseneke

International Law Firm of the Year
Baker & McKenzie

African Law Firm of the Year – Large Practice
Anjarwalla & Khanna

African Law Firm of the Year – Small Practice
AB & David

General Counsel of the Year
Pieter Badenhorst – AFGRI

Legal Department of the Year – Large Team
South African Reserve Bank

Legal Department of the Year – Small Team
Life Healthcare Group

Legal Counsel of the Year
Jonathan Maphosa – South African Reserve Bank

Assistant/Associate Solicitor of the Year
Ghassan Sader, Hogan Lovells

Innovation Award
Barefoot Law

CSR Award
AFGRI
Baker & McKenzie

Diversity, Transformation and Economic Empowerment Award
AB & David

M&A Team of the Year
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Banking, Finance and Restructuring Team of the Year
Baker & McKenzie

Competition and Regulatory Team of the Year
Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group

Litigation and Dispute Resolution Team of the Year
Webber Wentzel

Environmental, Energy and Natural Resources Team of the Year
Chadbourne & Parke

TMT Team of the Year
DLA Piper

Employment Law Team of the Year
ENSafrica

IP Team of the Year
Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group

Transportation and Infrastructure Team of the Year
Hogan Lovells

Property and Construction Team of the Year
Hogan Lovells

Go to africanlegalawards.com for more details about the awards