The ninth annual African Legal Awards was held at the sumptuous Houghton Hotel, Johannesburg, on Friday evening to celebrate the unique achievements and professionalism of law firms across the continent. Hosted by International, the awards showcased the best legal talent in Africa across 41 categories.

Notably, the coveted prize for the most innovative law firm in Africa was presented to Barnard. The Innovation Award seeks to identify a project or initiative that genuinely breaks new ground in the delivery of legal services. Barnard was shortlisted along with seven other prestigious private and in-house practices in Africa. In acknowledging the accolade, Barnard Managing Director, Douw Breed said, "We are over the moon with the award as it is the strongest acknowledgement of our team's ongoing efforts to purposefully change the way that legal services are provided in a rapidly changing world."

Barnard's submission centred around the innovative way that the Brooklyn, Pretoria-based firm approaches client relations and expectation management through its organisational structure and a unique implementation of reputation management at all levels of the legal service offering. "We also provided a practical example of how we successfully combined a media and reputation plan with a litigation strategy to limit risk and protect our client's reputation and interests," added Breed.

This year, apart from the Innovation Award nomination, Barnard Senior Associate Chanique Rautenbach was shortlisted for the Private Practice Rising Star Award. "Not only do these accolades allow us to honour the accomplishments of our colleagues in the legal field, but they also provide us with a yardstick to measure and celebrate our own vision and goals," said Breed.

Barnard has recently moved its head office from Centurion to Brooklyn in Pretoria to accommodate a fast-growing professional staff complement and is also in the process of launching a new brand image as part of ongoing improvements to its brand and service offering.