City firm Norton Rose was this week expected to confirm mergers with firms in South Africa and ­Canada.

The enlarged group will rank among the top-10 legal practices in the world by headcount when it completes a link-up with Canada’s Ogilvy Renault and Deneys Reitz in South Africa.

The mergers, which will create a firm with more than 2,500 lawyers across the globe, are believed to be among the first such deals between a UK firm and practices in either Canada or South Africa (pictured).

‘When we moved into Australia in 2010 we were one of the first to combine with an international firm from there,’ said group head of disputes Deirdre Walker.

‘It’s interesting to see that others have followed suit - I anticipate they will do the same in Canada and South Africa.

‘In North America, international firms have focused on the US, but Canadian firms are very cosmopolitan and well connected in Europe. People have viewed it as a mature legal market but nobody saw it in terms of merger potential.

‘South Africa can be the gateway for the rest of Africa with a strong legal and financial ­system.’