“We are proud of the market recognition we have received since our establishment,” said Zama Ngcobo, founder and managing partner of WMN Attorneys, a black female owned- and managed firm. “It shows us that the world and the industries we service are warming up to the idea of gender equality.” In 2023 WMN Attorneys was certified as a top gender-empowered company by Standard Bank Limited, and proudly established its second office in Durban, South Africa. Ngcobo was also awarded the Bold Future Award at the Veuve Clicquot Bold Woman Awards in 2023, for her work in establishing WMN Attorneys Inc.
Speaking about the way the firm has evolved since its inception, Ngcobo said they started off as a technology and construction team, well versed in advising on, drafting or reviewing and negotiating commercial agreements, as well as dispute resolution, but they have since introduced other areas of practice including employment law and property law. “The firm has grown its client base considerably over the past three years, making great strides in the mining, project finance and social housing spaces,” Ngcobo said.
One of the cases that best showcases the firm’s capabilities, showing that a medium-sized team can deliver a multi-billion rand project, with the appropriate expertise, experience, professionalism and teamwork is the work they did on the Two Rivers Platinum Mine Merensky Project.
“I have been particularly impressed with the team’s ability to handle multiple projects and disputes simultaneously,” Ngcobo noted.
As with any industry, repeat business is a clear sign that clients are impressed, and WMN has had plenty of that, including being involved in two phases of a project in Polokwane involving a Danish company and the cross-border supply of specialised technological equipment.
Having already advised in cases in over 30 countries across Africa and beyond, and having received numerous awards along the way, so far WMN Attorneys’ strategy for growth and success in the competitive legal market is working, but they don’t plan to rest on their laurels. “We understand that clients want cost-certainty, and we are constantly attempting to perfect our model when providing capped fees, even for disputes,” Ngcobo said. “We intend on increasing our reach in the African continent and continuing to provide creative legal solutions, within clients’ budgets and timelines.”
One of the reasons Ngcobo established WMN Attorneys was to create a safe space for women to practise law, and she aims to build a firm where policies that support the progress of women are the norm. Part of WMN Attorneys’ mission is to raise the profile of women in the male-dominated legal industry. Ngcobo believes that in order to change the public perception of what women can and can’t do, “women need to have more visibility in our sectors and be celebrated for their work”. She hopes her firm will be a shining example of exactly what can be achieved by a women-led cohort of attorneys.
Looking ahead, Ngcobo says WMN aims to be the leading law firm in the infrastructure, natural resources and technology sectors, increasing their client base and position in the African market, all while changing perceptions around women in the workplace, and specifically in the male-dominated sectors they service.
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