05:09, April 25 690 0

2017-04-25 05:09:08
HSF opens alternative legal services hub in South Africa

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) is opening its first alternative legal services business in South Africa – nearly two years after launching an office in the country.

The firm opened in Johannesburg in October 2015, with the office now numbering six partners led by banking and finance lawyer Ed Baring.

The alternative legal services business will result in the recruitment of five additional lawyers, as well as 20 legal analysts, responsible for handling high-volume and document-intensive work for clients across the globe.

Johannesburg marks HSF‘s eighth alternative legal services business launch, with other hubs located in the firm’s London, Shanghai, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane offices.

The firm has two dedicated centres in Belfast and Melbourne, launched in 2011 and 2016 respectively. HSF expanded significantly its Belfast near-shoring hub in 2015, launching a 240-lawyer alternative legal services business.

The new South African lawyers will focus on global corporate and finance work, while the analysts will primarily handle contentious issues.

The analysts will take part in the firm’s new international legal learnership programme (ILLP) offering up to 20 legal graduates the chance to gain employment and work experience through a structured scheme.

Head of alternative legal services and new partner Libby Jackson told The Lawyer that South Africa had always been on her list for new openings.

“When we launched Belfast, we thought about how we could globalise that solution.There were possible locations for growing out the business and South Africa was on that list. But we also had cracking locations out in Australia and Asia, so it wasn’t the right time. We were greatly enabled by the decision to launch in Johannesburg in 2015.”

Jackson added that she travelled back from Melbourne through South Africa last year to carry out due diligence on the area and talk to graduates.

She also said the new ILLP programme would not be different to what analysts currently learn in Belfast, for example, but that it would allow the firm to attract the best talent. A further intake is planned for 2018.

“It sits as a programme and we’re really trying to bring new initiatives to new graduates,” Jackson said. “We’re positioning ourselves so that we attract the right people.”

The Johannesburg alternative legal services business is expected to launch later this year.