A desire for flexibility, growth opportunities and a family feel led these four leading lawyers to leave major international firms to join mining law experts Warren Beech and Nicholas Veltman in building a boutique legal practice in the midst of a pandemic.
Vengeni, Van Zyl, Hart and Molope are part of a small, expert team with strong experience in mining, natural resources and infrastructure law. They believe in an inverted pyramid model, where the senior lawyers do most of the work rather than delegating to and revising the work of dozens of associates. This setup also allows the senior lawyers to be more hands-on with client work and practice development, while mentoring a far smaller number of juniors.
“I enjoy the dynamic of a boutique firm as it allows for more flexibility than that offered in medium- and large firms, both in terms of charge-out rates and being able to expand one’s practice areas,” said Hart, a leading employment lawyer. “A streamlined team also means one is able to deliver a quick turnaround – something I have always prided myself on – as one doesn’t have to involve a team of juniors who need work. I have found my niche.”
In 2021 Vengeni, along with Hart, advised many clients on data privacy and protection matters following the implementation of new legislation. She particularly enjoyed being involved in the development of the boutique practice. “As a new firm the growth opportunities are endless, and that is very exciting to me,” she said.
BVI has crafted a family feel among a dynamic group of professionals, with an excellent synergy across different team members, noted Van Zyl, an expert in health and safety, environmental law, and litigation. He enjoys working with juniors on various matters, and playing a role in their personal development as lawyers and their careers in general.
Hart concurred: “One of my aspirational goals is to leave a lasting impact and influence on younger lawyers who I work with.”
While the firm was established with an outstanding reputation in the mining industry, intellectual property and litigation expert Molope appreciates the opportunity at BVI to on-board her own clients with the aim of building a diverse client base across different sectors. Recently she has advised clients in automotive and equestrian industries.
The four directors are committed to the firm’s motto of #RelevantResponsivePractical, recognising that the pace of law has increased alongside client expectations.
“Our clients require practical solutions for complex problems as they navigate their businesses through uncharted territory,” said Van Zyl. “Clients now want quick, practical solutions, and the digital landscape has accelerated the pace even further,” added Hart.
But BVI goes beyond practical, prompt advice.
“I believe it is very important to never forget the spirit of ubuntu (humanity) in the legal profession,” said Vengeni. “We deal with tight deadlines and work long hours to service our clients, but at the end of the day clients seek our advice not only because of our expertise, but also because we show respect and concern for their needs.”
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