Don’t be ‘Gundelfingered’
has built an outstanding reputation in divorce and criminal cases involving high-profile people and celebrities. He’s consequently regarded as a dazzling celebrity lawyer. Despite spending most of his time with celebrities, Gundelfinger is very approachable and affable.
Gundelfinger, who started his own general practice at the age of 23 in 1975 with a R5 000 bank overdraft, doesn’t see himself retiring from his profession. In those early days he was often stuck in traffic without petrol. “It was initially difficult to build the practice,” he says.
His practice is based at his office in Norwood in an old Victorian house with original pressed ceilings, wooden floors, Oregon pine doors and lead glass windows bought 24 years ago, having convinced the owner to sell after knocking on the door uninvited. Gundelfinger
now dominates many highprofile and celebrity cases. He’s represented Cyril Ramaphosa (chairman of Shanduka), Pastor Ray McCauley (pastor at Rhema Ministries), Khaya Ngqula (CE of SA Airways) and Bill Venter (chairman of the Altron Group). He charges his clients R2 500/hour – plus VAT.
Both his parents, who were Holocaust survivors, settled in SA. He grew up in a flat in Sunrise Court in the suburb of Bertrams, east of Johannesburg, surrounded by poverty. He realised that the only way to transcend that background was through education. His interest in law began in Standard Nine at Athlone Boys’ High School, when he studied mercantile law.
He’s synonymous with high-profile cases. He says: “All over the world when celebrities get divorced they capture the media spotlight – and we as lawyers are caught up in the flash.”
With the media frenzy prompted by high profile people, journalists reporting on his clients don’t bother Gundelfinger. He says: “Fortunately, Section 12 of the Divorce Act limits journalists on what they can report – which I think is a good thing, because it protects children.”
Gundelfinger smiles at the suggestion that he’s widely regarded as SA’s top celebrity divorce lawyer. He responds: “I’m flattered to hear that.”
Among his many affiliations, he’s chairman of the board of the University of South Africa (Unisa), a councillor for and chairman of Family Law of the Law Society. “I’ve always enjoyed making a meaningful contribution.”
Gundelfinger says that a good lawyer keeps abreast of the law, is fair and reasonable, acts in his clients’ best interests, and the children’s welfare is paramount. By all accounts, Gundelfinger, who thinks of himself as a public-spirited person, meets those criteria.
He’s always been passionate about SA. He believes he’s making a difference in his endeavours, whether in his practice or as Unisa chairman or his involvement with the Law Society.