Brent Botha, recently appointed as CEO of leading law firm Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa, credits his father’s non-prescriptive suggestion that he become a barrister, for his stellar career in law.
“As a lawyer, I’ve grown in the sort of instructions I’ve dealt with, my level of engagement with clients, and the strategic input that I’ve been able to offer in matters. Norton Rose Fulbright’s values of quality, unity and integrity speak to and resonate with me,” Botha said.
A corporate and commercial litigation lawyer, Botha served his articles with what was Deneys Reitz in 2005, became an associate in 2007 and in 2010 was made partner. In that same year, Deneys Reitz became part of Norton Rose and then Norton Rose Fulbright – all while Botha stayed the course.
His natural affinity for leadership had been demonstrated early when he was elected head prefect of both his junior and secondary schools, and was quickly noticed at Norton Rose Fulbright too. In 2013 Botha assumed a leadership role as a member of the firm’s Supervisory Board, and in 2019 was appointed as the Practice Group Leader for Disputes. At that juncture, Botha became a member of Norton Rose Fulbright’s Executive Management Committee. His blend of leadership and business acumen led to his appointment in October 2023 as CEO of Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa, which he says is a singular honour.
Botha brings to his role a different mindset about the way firms are led, to maintain the edge over competitors
“We can’t think the way we did yesterday in the world of tomorrow. I’m thinking laterally and out of the box, and will probably test some boundaries – responsibly of course. Separately, social responsibility initiatives that align with evolving client values and expectations cannot be ignored, and will in fact be promoted. Lastly, and probably most importantly, I believe that maintaining a strong ethical foundation and commitment to integrity will continue to build trust with our clients.”
Botha also cares deeply about advancing diversity and equality for the next generation, by championing these efforts together with the firm's partners, ensuring progress can be measured.
“We nurture partnerships with universities and law faculties to help ensure pipelines for diverse talent into the legal profession,” he explained.
“From a leadership development perspective, I have been very fortunate to have an experienced and committed mentor and champion to support and guide me throughout my career,” Botha shared. “He helped shape me into the professional I am today, and the leader I want to be. Recognising the importance of having mentors and champions, I try to do the same by paying it forward.”
The firm’s Social Impact Team also offers their non fee-paying services to disenfranchised communities by educating them about their legal rights when it comes to issues such as domestic violence and drawing up of wills.
“This gives meaning and effect to my strategy of solidifying purpose,” Botha added.
He says that a further example of the firm’s commitment to society at large is its collaboration with reigning Miss Universe South Africa, Bryoni Govender, and the team at Miss South Africa in support of the advocacy campaign “Her Way Out”. The campaign’s objective is to empower and educate women on their legal rights.
“Like Bryoni, I believe that empowering women through access to justice is not just a moral imperative, but a strategic necessity. And if we as Norton Rose Fulbright can deliver the platform for Bryoni to give meaning to her initiative, then that’s what we’ll do,” said Botha.
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