International law firm Baker McKenzie and South Africa-based Bowmans were among the big winners at the African Legal Awards 2018, which took place at The Wanderers Club, Johannesburg, South Africa on Friday 7 September.
Baker McKenzie was named International Law Firm of the Year while Bowmans secured African Law Firm of the Year - Large Practice, one of four awards it received on the night which also included Property and Construction Team of the Year and Energy & Natural Resources Team of the Year.
It was also a good night for Bowmans’ South African rivals ENSAfrica and Webber Wentzel, which each secured three awards.
Flagship awards for in-house lawyers and legal teams went to Tinuade Awe of The Nigerian Stock Exchange, who was named General Counsel of the Year, while Legal Department of the Year - Large Team went to the African Legal Support Facility, which is affiliated with the African Development Bank and helps African governments negotiate commercial transactions.
The ceremony, which was attended by nearly 300 lawyers from in-house legal departments and law firms, was jointly hosted by CCASA (the Corporate Counsel Association of South Africa) and Legal Week (organisers of The British Legal Awards).
The evening culminated with the CCASA Lifetime Achievement Award, which went to Justice Edwin Cameron, who sits on the Constitutional Court of South Africa and is renowned for his pioneering work campaigning for gay rights.
Presenting the award, CCASA president Howard Snoyman, head of legal and regulatory affairs at Discovery Health Medical Scheme, said: “Judge Cameron, with his combination of exceptional legal learning skills, proven commitment to a democratic South Africa in its transformation and his personal courage, must be acknowledged as, in the words of Nelson Mandela, ‘one of South Africa’s heroes’.”
Additional winners included Stellenbosch University Law Clinic (CCASA Achievement Award), legal insurance provider Law For All (Best Use of Technology) and South Africa private hospital operator Life Healthcare (Legal Department of the Year - Small Team).
The awards were judged by an independent panel comprised of senior in-house lawyers and general counsel from an array of leading companies including Nokia, Standard Bank, Absa Capital and Sasol.
The host on the night was leading South African journalist, radio host and television presenter Jeremy Maggs.
The ceremony took place the day after Corporate Counsel Forum Africa which saw 150 in-house counsel come together at the same venue for a full day of peer-to-peer networking, topical discussions and interactive workshops.
The conference, which was in its seventh year, was co-chaired by General Electric Healthcare Africa general counsel Ayele Locoh-Donou and Shibishi Maruatona, general counsel at Ford Motor Company, South Africa.