Werksmans tempts back finance duo from Baker & McKenzie

South African firm Werksmans has recruited two finance partners from Baker & McKenzie, two years after the duo were among a team that left the firm for Dewey & LeBoeuf.

Chris Moraitis and Astrid Berman were part of an eight-partner team who left Werksmans for the US firm in late 2011 (4 January 2012). Moraitis joined the doomed firm as a full equity partner, while Berman became a partner.

When Dewey collapsed just months later (29 May 2012) the former Werksmans team, along with the rest of the US firm’s Johannesburg office, decamped to launch a South African presence for Baker & McKenzie (29 May 2012).

The hires are part of a continued strategy to grow Werksmans’ banking and finance team. Last the firm hired Natalie Scott as a director – its partner-equivalent role – in the banking team, from a senior in-house role at Nedbank Capital.

Chairman Des Williams said the firm had been building its finance capability over the past few years, and wanted to continue this focus in the future.

The departures leave Bakers with nine partners in South Africa.

Werksmans is one of South Africa’s largest firms with around 100 partners. It is a founding member of independent pan-African network Lex Africa.

The firm is not the only South African outfit to be hiring. Last week Linklaters’ associate firm Webber Wentzel announced four partner hires for its energy practice (6 March 2014).