Baker & McKenzie launches Johannesburg base with Dewey team

Baker & McKenzie is to open a new base in South Africa with lawyers, staff and partners from Dewey & LeBoeuf’s defunct Johannesburg office following the biggest collapse of a law firm in US history.

Bakers will be taking Dewey’s entire Johannesburg team – compromising 16 lawyers and 15 professional staff – for the launch of its Johannesburg base, which will continue to focus on energy, mining and infrastructure.

The team will be led by partners Wildu du Plessis (banking and finance), Scott Brodsky (energy and projects), Chris Moraitis (regulatory and finance) and Morné van der Merwe (mining transactions), while senior lawyers include Astrid Berman, Esme Ferreira, Amelia Heeger, Rajen Ranchhoojee, Muhammad Sader and Mike van Rensburg. 

“It was one of the jewels in Dewey’s crown,” said one source at Baker & McKenzie.

In a statement, Baker & McKenzie chairman Eduardo Leite said: “The addition of this highly regarded team underscores our long-term commitment to Africa. As the continent’s largest economy and biggest recipient of foreign direct investment, South Africa is the linchpin for our expansion plans for the continent.”

The expansion, Bakers’ second Africa base following its launch in Cairo in 1985, follows a period of growth for Baker & McKenzie. In the past 12 months, the firm has opened offices in Qatar and Turkey (27 October 2011) following Luxembourg (1 October 2010) and Abu Dhabi in 2009 (30 October 2008).