Pinsents hires eight-strong Bowmans team as it bulks up for Johannesburg launch

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Pinsent Masons has recruited an eight-strong team of Bowmans lawyers including two partners – corporate partner Daniella Zussa and construction disputes partner Junaid Banoobhai – ahead of the UK firm’s Johannesburg launch in January.

The firm has also taken on one senior associate and five associates from the African firm, with the hires coming after Bowmans construction head Rob Morson and construction disputes partner Shane Voigt resigned in the summer to join the new Pinsents office.

In preparation for the opening, Pinsents has also hired three other partners – Webber Wentzel corporate partner Deidre Simaan, Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr projects head Claire Barclay, former Webber Wentzel board member George Sibanda (who joins from boutique firm Blaq Inc Attorneys), as well as Macfarlanes associate Mlungisi Mahlangu.

Linklaters has held an alliance with Webber Wentzel since 2013, while DLA Piper pulled out of its alliance with Cliffe Dekker in late 2015.

Pinsents senior partner Richard Foley said: “Our intention for Africa is to build something markedly different to what already exists in the market.” He added that the firm has assembled a team focused on clients in the infrastructure sector.

In addition, Pinsents has appointed Murray Thompson as Africa COO. Thompson, who became a consultant for Pinsents in March this year, was formerly COO for Baker & McKenzie in South Africa and COO and CFO of Webber Wentzel.

Pinsents’ Johannesburg launch comes after a string of openings there by UK firms in recent years. Herbert Smith Freehills and DLA Piper opened offices in South Africa’s commercial capital in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

The move into Africa move marks the latest international expansion for Pinsents, which has in recent months opened in Duesseldorf, Sydney and Melbourne. The firm was recently named Law Firm of the Year at the British Legal Awards.

Bowmans, which this September rebranded from its former identity of Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group, recently took three honours at the African Legal Awards – Banking Finance & Restructuring Team of the Year, Property Team of the Year and Employment Team of the Year.