Two lawyers from Baker McKenzie’s Competition and Antitrust team in Johannesburg, Lerisha Naidu (Partner) and Sphesihle Nxumalo (Associate), have been named in the Top 100 Most Influential Young South Africans annual list, compiled by Avance Media. The list recognises young South Africans who have distinguished themselves in their chosen careers and who inspire other young South Africans.

In its fifth year, the PR and rating company's annual ranking has, according to Avance Media, “helped highlight the works of young South Africans across the world and has seen notable personalities such as Trevor Noah (2016), Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi (2017) and Caster Semenya (2018) voted as the Most Influential Young South Africans in the previous years.” The list includes South African lawyers, entrepreneurs, musicians, activists, media personalities, sports stars, public servants and politicians. Lerisha and Sphesihle are in good company, this year’s list includes South African rugby captain Siya Kolisi and Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi, amongst many other impressive South Africans.

In her role as a Competition lawyer, Lerisha advises and represents international and domestic clients in mergers and acquisitions, prohibited practices (including cartel-related matters), and compliance and risk mitigation. She has appeared before the Competition Tribunal of South Africa in merger proceedings, and has also worked on matters relating to clients involved in Tribunal proceedings. She has acted in a number of high-profile matters involving industry-wide and global cartels, interim relief applications, contested mergers and dawn raids. She has also participated in a number of compliance initiatives, including training sessions for firms' employees related to competition risk mitigation.

Lerisha is a small claims commissioner and devotes time to this on a pro bono basis.  She also acts on various pro bono cases including one on behalf of Johannesburg Pride in the case between the Nelson Mandela Foundation and Afriforum (relating to the display of the old South African Flag). Lerisha has worked a pro bono projects involving refugee rights issues and has contributed voluntarily to the work of Corruption Watch.  She has been involved in career guidance projects to inspire high school students interested in a career in law.  She acts as a mentor to lawyers and aspirant lawyers alike.  She has also been involved in corporate social responsibility projects for the firm. Lerisha was named as 'Up and Coming in Competition Law' in the Chambers Global Guide in 2019 and as a Next Generation Lawyer in the Legal500 Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Guide in 2017. Last year, she was named one of Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans.

Sphesihle's experience spans the spectrum of antitrust and competition law regulation. He advises local and international clients on the notifiability and compilation of merger transactions to competition authorities in various African jurisdictions. Sphesihle also advises and represents local and international clients on prohibited practices (i.e. cartel conduct, restrictive vertical practices and abuse of dominance), dawn raids and compliance programmes. He has been involved in several high-profile competition matters, and has conducted compliance audits and due diligence investigations on various corporate entities.
Sphesihle has been involved in a plethora of legal and social activities in South Africa, including, among other things, participating in symposiums with government ministers, judges and company executives; writing for various business and legal publications around the world; and serving in key portfolios/positions of various organisations across Africa. Sphesihle was recently recognised by News 24, which named him a Top 100 Young Mandela in 2018 and The Future Leader Forum, which recognised him as a Future Leader in 2018.  Last year, he received a Baker McKenzie South Africa Millennial Champion award for excellence in legal work. He was also awarded the Excellent Progression in Chosen Career Award by Peermont in 2019, for achievements in his career and his work in the community

Profiles of all finalists have been published on: and the public can vote for the most influential person of 2019 here: Voting closes on 5th February 2020.

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