Suzaan is both an American and a South African attorney, notary public and trademark practitioner with over 23 years of legal practice experience. She started her impressive legal career at the firm Adams & Adams and spent 22 successful years with the firm before she left, as a senior partner, in 2017, to pursue opportunities in New Orleans, USA. She is a Fellow of the South African Institute of Intellectual Property Law (SAIIPL); as a young lawyer she was admitted as a member of The Cape Law Society and of the Law Society of the Northern Provinces in South Africa; was recently admitted as a member of the Louisiana Bar in 2018; and became a member of the American Bar Association. She is a member of The International Trademark Association (INTA). Suzaan is a legal practitioner and notary public registered on the roll of attorneys with the Legal Practice Council of South Africa.
Suzaan has the degrees BA (1992) and LLB (1994) from the University of Stellenbosch, and most recently obtained an LLM degree (with distinction) from Tulane University in New Orleans in 2018. She was awarded top honors in Louisiana Civil Procedure and in Louisiana Tort Law at Tulane – displaying her career-long talent and passion for litigation.
She was admitted to practice as an attorney and notary public of the High Court of South Africa in 1997. In that same year, as a 25 year-old, she single-handedly started a new trademark practice for Adams & Adams in Cape Town from scratch. Next, in 1998, she became one of the youngest partners to date in the firm and continued to successfully build and lead its Cape Town practice until 2017. During her tenure, she also served as the chairperson of Adams & Adams’s branch offices and as a managing partner on the firm’s executive committee.
Suzaan is highly specialized in trademark litigation and prosecution work, availability searches and opinions, copyright, unlawful competition and passing off matters; and she has presented many ground-breaking cases in the South African High Court and Supreme Court, before tribunals of the Companies Office, before the Registrar of Trade Marks, before the Advertising Standards Authority, and before arbitration tribunals. She has extensive experience in African trademark practice (outside South Africa), and in global trademark portfolio management. She prepares trademark license and sale agreements and advises on commercial transactions of various kinds involving trademarks and copyright. Her clients include substantial South African and international companies with interests across the commercial spectrum, ranging from retail, financial and hospitality services to pharmaceuticals and health, beauty and fashion, foods and wine.
She was ranked as one of the world’s 1000 leading trademark professionals by World Trade Mark Review (WTR 1000) in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Annual WTR publications included peer-review comments about her, such as:
‘complimented for her dexterity in licensing and franchising issues, as well as her proficiency in contentious work’ (2012)
‘covers the gamut of contentious matters’ (2013) (She was listed as the top individual in South Africa for trade mark prosecution and strategy in that year.)
‘commands great respect: Her work is of the highest standard and she is a great choice for conflict of interest referrals.’ (2014)
‘The exceptionally good and highly capable’ Suzaan Laing commands admiration across the board.’ (2015).
‘takes a very practical, business-like approach and really looks after her clients’ interests. She won’t be unnecessarily aggressive. She is a very impressive litigator, but she won’t necessarily litigate if other options are available. She will handle matters in the best possible way.’ (2017)
Suzaan was named an IP Star by the publication Managing IP (MIP) for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016.
She was listed in the Chambers Global Guide Legal Rankings (‘noted for the breadth of her practice and strength in litigation’).
Suzaan has also lectured widely over the years as an expert on trademark and copyright law, advertising law, geographical indications and intellectual property rights, including at the invitation of the University of Stellenbosch and University of Cape Town.
As an attorney, Suzaan is admired and sought after for her intelligence, communication and drafting skills, empathy, insight, loyalty, courage, perseverance, dignified and respectful approach, and for her unique, calm and effective problem solving. One of her great strengths during her exemplary career is her enduring relationships with her clients, and the trust they have in her. Suzaan will walk a long road with every one of her clients, be there for them at every step of the way and beyond, and she will never let them down.
Her new practice, launched in April 2019, focuses on trademark rights management, guidance and solutions not only in South Africa and Africa, but also in the USA and globally – using both her own expertise and harnessing that of her network of colleagues around the world. She will continue to do what she has done before, and what she is best at.
She spends her time between Cape Town, South Africa and New Orleans, USA – offering seamless professional services to her clients around the world, and always remaining personally, directly available to them.