Pinsent Masons launches real estate practice in South Africa with boutique tie-up

Addition of Gunn Attorneys also strengthens UK firm's local ESG offering
Johannesburg cityscape (west part) seen from the Carlton Center viewing deck

Johannesburg Shutterstock; WitR

Pinsent Masons has joined forces with boutique law firm Gunn Attorneys in Johannesburg to launch a local property practice and strengthen its environmental, social and governance capabilities in South Africa. 

The move adds two lawyers — Gunn Attorneys founder Adam Gunn and associate Sarah Burford — to the UK firm’s 16-strong South Africa team, which includes 10 partners. Gunn and Burford have join Pinsent's real estate practice and will also help to grow the firm's local environmental and ESG expertise, the firm said in a statement. 

Pinsents said the launch of a property practice in Johannesburg through the tie-up would allow it to support local clients on real estate matters and means the Joburg office, the firm’s sole location in South Africa, will cover its key sectors of energy, science and industry, financial services and technology and infrastructure. 

Junaid Banoobhai, the firm's Johannesburg office head, said: "Adam and Sarah bring a wealth of experience across the environmental, ESG and real estate sectors which will not only complement our existing practice but will enable the firm to support clients on a broader suite of projects. Underpinned by an outstanding track record in South Africa, we’re confident that the team will play a vital role in developing the firm’s capabilities on the ground.”

Gunn, who founded his firm in 2014, specialises in commercial, mining, environmental and property law. He began his career in private practice working for local firm Webber Wentzel in 1999 and has since held a variety of executive and non-executive legal advisory roles for organisations in the mining industry, including Ridge Mining and First Uranium Corporation, according to his Linkedin profile. 

He also spent time working at Eversheds Sutherland and local firm ESNafrica, according to Pinsents. 

Burford, meanwhile, joined Gunn Attorneys in 2021 after working as in-house counsel for VZLR, a South African mining house, between 2018 and 2019 upon completion of her LLM at the University of Pretoria a year prior. 

Together, the duo advises clients in mining, environmental and commercial matters in South Africa. 

Their arrival follows Pinsent Masons strengthening its presence in South Africa last month with the hire of corporate crime and forensic investigation lawyer Edward James as a partner from ENSafrica. 

James came aboard just a few months after the firm lost its South Africa transactional practice head Chris Green to Hogan Lovells, a move that marked the latter firm’s first partner-level lateral hire since its high-profile split with local ally Routledge Modise and subsequent office relaunch in 2019. 



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