South African firm Webber Wentzel Bowens has lost key employment specialist Rod Harper and a team of five associates to rival Sonnenberg Hoffmann Galombik. Harper founded Webber's labour law unit approximately 20 years ago and the defections are understood to reduce the firm's employment practice by around a third. Harper, who joined Sonn-enberg this week, was the first to approach the rival firm. His resignation was then followed by that of five associates. "We were looking to bolster the labour group in Johann-esburg," said Sonnenberg chairman Piet Farber. "This was the perfect opportunity." The rapidly growing firm has been making a push to grow its Johannesburg office to a size similar to that of Cape Town, which has around 100 lawyers. Last year it hired a 15-lawyer tax team from KPMG.