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South Africa

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Legal market overview

South Africa has been buffered by some serious economic headwinds. Recent political and currency instability has not been conducive to fiscal growth and cross-border investment flows. The parlous economic environment has encouraged firms to focus more of their attentions on north of the border. South African corporates and banks are still big players across the continent and where transactions and disputes are governed by South African law, which is frequent, it gives the South African legal profession an important role to play. Moreover, with English, French and Portuguese laws or derived laws more prevalent across Africa, it has encouraged firms to build their overseas legal expertise. It has also enabled international law firms that are present in South Africa, a more prominent seat at the table. Allen & Overy (South Africa) LLP, BAKER & MCKENZIE JOHANNESBURG, Herbert Smith Freehills South Africa LLP, Pinsent Masons LLP and White & Case LLP are just a few examples of international firms that are using their South African bases to service Africa-wide matters. The arrival and expansion of these firms in recent years prompted a torrent of senior practitioner lateral moves, but this has now slowed with Gary Felthun's move from ENSafrica to White & Case LLP being one of few examples over the research period.

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