three musketeers bakers

Falling on swords.

Baker McKenzie’s loss of its established management in South Africa will continue with the departure of both its Head of Africa and its Director of Africa Operations, RollOnFriday can reveal. 

As the firm waved goodbye to former South Africa Managing Partner Morne van der Merwe this week, it confirmed that Wildu du Plessis and Bruce Schubach were also heading out the door.

Du Plessis was the MP in South Africa until van der Merwe took the reigns in 2016, when he was appointed head of Baker McKenzie's Global Africa Practice.

Schubach only joined Bakers in January. At the time he regurgitated sexy managerspeak for the press about applying “rapidly changing regulatory data and intelligence to turn complexity into certainty”, uttered the required new boss mantra about embracing diversity and inclusion, and accurately predicted that the future would “provide both immense challenges and exciting opportunities’, albeit he thought he was talking about Africa rather than himself. 

Bakers quietly stood van der Merwe down several months ago while it investigated a whistleblower’s complaint, but its endemic problems with bullying at the Joburg branch were brought to wider attention when numerous former Baker McKenzie lawyers spoke to RollOnFriday about their experiences. Ex-staff described how van de Merwe, du Plessis and Schubach were known around the office as ‘the three musketeers’.

Asked this week whether the other two had embraced the spirit of 'all for one, one for all' and followed van der Merwe, a spokesperson told RollOnFriday, “Wildu du Plessis has stepped down as a Principal of Baker McKenzie and, with effect from 10 September 2021, as a director and shareholder of Baker McKenzie Inc in Johannesburg.  He will leave the Firm on 30 September 2021".

He confirmed that Schubach would be leaving on 24 September.

None of three was publicly thanked for their service, in what represents an extraordinary clear out of the management of Baker McKenzie’s South Africa operation.

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Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 17 September 21 09:17

Needs to be a follow up one year from now to see if things have changed for the better or not.

Hackaforte 17 September 21 09:34

Ironic that du Plessis was one of the Three Musketeers, when that was the surname of Cardinal Richelieu!

Question Man 17 September 21 10:13

Do we know that any of these people really existed?

Or if they did that they didn't originally start life as women and are now masquerading as men just to discredit us?

Are we sure that this isn't a PsyOps campaign by Big Feminism to undermine African masculinity for the profit of the Rothschild dynasty?

Evidence please.

Wesurvived 17 September 21 11:13

We started coming in to the office again this week and the excitement in the building is nothing short of refreshing. Everything is lighter

Anonymous 17 September 21 11:24

Brilliant work ROF.  I can’t help thinking none of this would have happened without your expose.  What a pity Bakers always need to be shamed into taking action.

Question Woman 17 September 21 11:39

@10.13 - you're coming along well, we'll make a broad minded and rational individual out of you yet. You're even starting to grasp the basics of evidence and acknowledge the frequency of false allegations. Well done you!

What were the obvious questions you missed?

Anonymous 17 September 21 12:17

Nice of Baker to confirm they have a ROF-driven disciplinary approach. At least this makes it clear for their people around the world that there’s no point going through internal channels when something is wrong. Not unless they want to run the risk of being ignored for years or ostracised.

Just go straight to ROF to enable change!

Anonymous 17 September 21 12:29

Someone should sit global management at Bakers down and explain to them that good firms with actual values rather than hot air head these things off at the pass and avoid ruining lives and careers. This also has the happy side effect of keeping the corporate image of those firms intact. Maybe it’s not just Africa that needs a clear out.

Anonymous 17 September 21 16:18

"Sadly it’s not only Africa that needs a clear out but it is a start…"


Thanks for that Enoch.

Anonymous 18 September 21 09:06

@7.10 - always a mistake to pretend to think the person arguing against must be the subject of the criticism. It makes it look as if you have no counter to their comment.

Anonymous 18 September 21 09:24

Well done RoF for once again shaming Bakers into action. We should however be clear that the third musketeer Bruce has been […] doing the bidding of the other two for many years in that office. A role change in January this year perhaps but a far longer tenure which places him at the heart of this sorry tale. 

Anonymous 20 September 21 00:33

Well done Roll on Friday. Bullying is a big problem in South African law firms which I can say from a personal experience at an IP firm in Pretoria - ironically the same firm that Roll on Friday ran an article on where a lawyer used an employee as a witness without disclosing that relationship. That attorney is the brother of Wildu du Plessis, one of those mentioned in this article.

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