Hogan Lovells secures first partner lateral in Johannesburg since 2019 office relaunch

Senior corporate hire from Pinsent Masons helps rebuild presence following split with Routledge Modise

Hogan Lovells has hired Pinsent Masons’ South African transactional services practice head as a corporate partner in Johannesburg, adding to the office's partner ranks for the first time since its high-profile split with local ally Routledge Modise in 2019.

Chris Green joins the top 20 global firm after less than a year leading Pinsent Masons’ transactional services practice in Johannesburg, having joined from regional outfit from Bowmans as a partner in March. 

The move marks a significant landmark for Hogan Lovells’ Johannesburg arm, which underwent a major restructuring in 2019 after its 2013 combination with local law firm Routledge Modise was unwound with the bulk of the office re-establishing Routledge Modise as a separate firm.

Of the five partners and two counsel who re-launched the office as a fully-integrated Hogan Lovells entity two years ago, a further two partners and one of the counsel departed last year. 

Partner Vivien Chaplin and counsel Rachel Kelly joined Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr's corporate and commercial practice and Lesley Morphet moved across to Fasken to co-head its South Africa competition law group.

However, Hogan Lovells did secure counsel Lisa Botha as a consultant in its corporate and finance practice from Allen & Overy in September last year.

That means Green is joining an eight-lawyer team in Johannesburg, helmed by office managing partner Wessel Badenhorst and partners Laurie Hammond and Kevin Pietersen. 

The firm says its wider regional Africa practice, meanwhile, counts 150 lawyers working from seven other hub offices: Beijing, Dubai, London, New York, Paris, Tokyo and Washington DC. 

Green has significant experience handling blue chip cross-border corporate M&A work across a range of sectors, including consumer goods, financial services, telecoms and energy and natural resources. 

He has advised local, pan-African and multinational clients looking to grow their operations in Sub-Saharan Africa, including high-profile names like drinks giants Coca Cola and AB InBev as well as German chemical producer BASF. 

“We are proud of the progress we have made and continue to build our offering in corporate law, financial services and technology,” Badenhorst commented. “We present the ideal platform for Chris to grow both domestic and worldwide relationships, significantly enhancing and complementing our expertise as well as our brand and presence in South Africa more generally.”

A number of other international firms have been turning their attention towards building up their South Africa capability as of late. White & Case hired Allen & Overy’s (A&O) Johannesburg managing partner, Lionel Shawe, to bolster its global debt finance and Africa practices in April, while A&O made its own lateral hires a few months later when it nabbed a six-partner team from Linklaters ally Webber Wentzel in September. 

And last month, Bowmans signed a cooperation agreement with French heavy hitter Gide Loyrette Nouel in a move intended to boost each firm’s reach across Africa.

In August, Baker McKenzie announced it was implementing a ‘three-step plan’ to address management issues at its Johannesburg office that include a change in leadership and measures to make it easier for staff to raise confidential concerns about their treatment.

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