DWF to enter exclusive associations in South Africa and Singapore

Firm to link with Thomson Wilks in SA and Eldan Law in Singapore less than a year after closing its outpost in the city-state

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Listed UK law firm DWF is entering into an exclusive association with a local law firm in Singapore and another in South Africa, bolstering its international capabilities after scaling back operations during the pandemic. 

The firm will be linking with Singaporean firm Eldan Law and South African practice Thomson Wilks, according to an announcement released today

The move comes less than a year after DWF shuttered its Singaporean outpost as part of a wider global restructuring effort spearheaded by CEO Sir Nigel Knowles, who stepped into the frontline role after former firm head Andrew Leaitherland was ousted last May

The cost-cutting measures brought on by the larger-than-anticipated impact of COVID-19 on the firm’s international operations also led to the closure of the its Brussels office and a reduction of activities in Dubai and Cologne. 

The nature of the association agreements means that Eldan and Thomson Wilks will exclusively work with DWF in the markets they cover and vice versa, based on the mutually beneficial goal of generating work referrals between DWF and the two firms to provide “seamless” service for their global client bases

The firm also said it hopes to work with Eldan and Thomson Wilks to promote its integrated legal management strategy by expanding its managed services arm Mindcrest and its specialist business division Connected Services. 

In a statement, Knowles said the association agreements mark an “important” step forward for the firm in retooling its global network. 

Eldan Law and Thomson Wilks are highly regarded firms in Singapore and South Africa and we have a strong alignment in terms of expertise and sector focus,” he said. “Like all of our association relationships, this agreement will provide all parties the opportunity to better serve existing and new clients, whilst ensuring consistency, familiarity and quality across the board.”

Established in 2010 as a boutique disputes resolution firm, Eldan’s core offerings include commercial litigation, international arbitration, corporate real estate, intellectual property and corporate transactions. It sits among the 25 largest local Singaporean firms with 35 employees, including 17 partners.

Thomson Wilks, meanwhile, specialises in dispute resolution litigation and commercial corporate law. It has bases in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town and boasts nine directors, seven associates and 28 consultants.

Prior to the association agreement with DWF, Thomson Wilks had already been working with DWF’s office in France, formerly Heenan Paris, since 2016. 

Eldan and Thomson Wilks join the likes of US firm Wood, Smith, Henning & Berman, Panama-based outfit Fabrega Molino and Turkish firm OGB as DWF’s fourth and fifth international association partnerships, respectively. 

As part of DWF’s dramatic strategy shift seen throughout a pandemic-ridden year, the firm announced more office closures last month in Melbourne, Sydney and Newcastle at the expected loss of nearly 100 jobs in a major scaling back of its legal capability in Australia.

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