Stephensons links with S African firm

Stephenson Harwood has signed an association with respected South African banking firm Routledge-Modise, boosting the work of its London-based sub-Saharan group.

The 23-lawyer Johannesburg-based firm had been a member of Commercial Lawyer Affiliates, an international network of medium-sized firms, but decided that it needed a closer relationship with a single firm.

Routledge-Modise litigation partner Clive Rumsey said that the UK was still South Africa's main trading partner and that a strong business relationship existed between the two countries.

Routledge-Modise was formed at the start of September after Routledges – a white 20-lawyer firm – merged with black, four-lawyer labour law practice Mlambo & Modise. Name partner Lavery Modise and two assistants joined Routledges while the other name partner Dunston Mlambo left to become a labour court judge.

Mlambo & Modise had been associated with Routledges for eight months before merging – a strategy adopted by a number of white South African firms to gain access to the increasing number of government and corporate contracts that require black lawyers work on the deal.