The Legal Activities report describes current conditions, recent developments including merger and acquisition activity, and factors influencing the success of the industry. The report profiles 25 law firms, including the largest and most well-known firms, colloquially referred to as The Big Five, Bowman Gilfillan, Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr (CDH), Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs (ENS), Norton Rose SA, and Webber Wentzel. Also profiled are small legal firms such as Johannesburg-based Daly Maqubela Oliphant Incorporated where there are 20 employees, and Knowles Husain Lindsay Incorporated, which employs 70 people and has recently expanded its services to include high-end commercial and corporate law services.
The South African Legal Sector
This report focuses on the activities of attorneys, advocates, notaries and conveyancers in South Africa. The legal activities sector is vital to both the South African economy and to democratic and equitable functioning of the country through the upholding of the rule of law. Forming part of the services sector, which contributed 59% to total GDP in 2014, legal activities accounted for estimated revenue of R29bn. There are currently 23,217 attorneys and 5,459 candidate attorneys employed at a total of 11,629 law firms throughout the country.
Although recent trends show that the sector is growing, many feel that it has failed to do so inclusively and questions regarding the transformation of the legal profession have become pressing issues in recent years. At the same time stakeholders are worried about declining standards and some have called for 'lawyers to be trained properly', citing the need for the 'genuine' postgraduate LLB degree to be brought back. Added to these factors are concerns about the Legal Practice Act signed into law by President Jacob Zuma in 2014. This piece of legislation is set to transform the profession in a variety of ways and all lawyers, advocates and attorneys will fall under a single regulatory body, The South African Legal Practice Council.