Our Werk Crush Wednesday’s passion for Health Law and Ethics resonates with me so deeply because I am currently suffering from a terrible toothache. My other source of pain is the thought of how much a trip to the dentist is going to cost me! We definitely need more affordable and easily accessible healthcare facilities!

Lets hear more about Martha Nante, a lawyer from Uganda who is passionate about Health Law and Ethics. She shares with us how her personal experience has led her to advocate for better healthcare for women in Uganda and Africa.

Tell Us..

Your qualifications:

LLB (Hons), Uganda Christian University.

Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, Law Development Centre.

LLM, (pending), Nottingham Trent University.

Currently working with a law firm called Fides Legal Advocates as a Legal Associate.

Your practice areas: 

I came straight from law school into legal  practice with a law firm that mostly deals in Corporate and Commercial Law, Land Transactions, Family Law and Civil Litigation. However, I am working on a switch to advocacy in Health Law and Ethics after my LLM because this is what I have always had the passion for.

The reaction when people find out you are a lawyer:

“You must be rich, lawyers have money”

“I’ll need your help with this matter”

A major move in the last 5 years:

Being a woman that suffers from a reproductive disorder, Endometriosis, whose stats indicate to affect 1 in 10 women, my major move has been the realisation that no one, but me, will advocate for the healthcare system that I  wish to see. Dealing with experiences as these opens your eyes to a lot of health injustices people deal with everyday. I believe I am a lawyer that has to reach out and stand for those without a voice.

Why you chose to study law:

Ultimately, I go for paths less paved and I do not follow the crowd. Law is one of those careers that require a lot of input and resources, and many sacrifices but is worth it! I was not willing to settle on anything but law.

Something you wish you could change about legal practice:

I want to see the Law operate the way it’s supposed to operate, without compromise, and with utmost equality. What you are taught in law school is normally not exactly what is happening in practice.I wish there was a way to bridge that divide.

A beauty staple and closet item you can’t live without: 

M.A.C Pro Long wear Nourishing Waterproof Foundation (NC50)-This can take me the whole day on the run with a fair face, touched up with M.A.C Studio Fix Powder(NW45).

My most loyal closet item would be my Prada bag that dubs as my work bag, stylish and big enough to carry everything you need on the go.

Describe your Werk style: 

Anything formal but also light enough because the weather keeps changing. A jacket is a must have for when it gets cold or when I have court.

Did I thank God for dull colors?

When stressed or overwhelmed, what do you do to refocus:

I discuss whatever it is stressing or overwhelming me with a loved one- this could be a talk with God, a family member or a friend. They help remind you of what truly matters and usually give the best shoulders and advise.

A time you made a mistake at work and how you bounced back:

I remember an incident at law school where I copied a draft examination timetable thinking it was the final timetable. I missed an exam that was indicated to be written in the afternoon on the draft yet, it was written in the morning! I was devastated and waited a whole year to have to do this one paper. I eventually did it and graduated.

A physical or spiritual practice you have adopted:

Spiritual -Gratitude for the smallest of things. I take time off every morning to count my blessings even those I would normally miss before I say my prayer to start my day. Helps me get the perspective of my achievements and appreciate how far God has actually brought me.

Physical- To listen more than I speak, to ask more questions, talk about myself less, to show kindness when presented with a chance, I assume everyone is going through something so a little act of kindness might do someone good.

Bad recommendations or assumptions about law that you often hear?

Lawyers are ‘cheats’or even ‘thieves.’

This narrative is wrong because, honestly, no one goes to law school for 5 years, passes the bar only to charge below average or nothing for a legal service unless they are doing Pro-bono work.

The best or most worthwhile investment you have ever made? 

Funding for my LLM basically. This right here is going to be my biggest investment so far.

Major goal for the next 5 years:

Change the dynamics of health law and policy in Uganda and Africa as a whole.

Quote you live your life by:

The quickest way to happiness is learning to be selfless.

 

Where can people get in touch with you to say hi:

marthaluyiga@gmail.com

LinkedIn: Martha Nante

Instagram: martha.nante

Facebook: Martha Nante

 

I am particularly excited for this weeks feature, Yolelwa Sikunyana, who is the founder of Sikunyana Inc Attorneys. I met Yolelwa while she was in-house counsel to a multinational oil company and I was an associate in a big law firm. She has gone from client to colleague!

Check out her journey from in-house to entrepreneur!

Tell Us

 

Your qualifications:

Founder of Sikunyana Inc. Attorneys LLB (UJ) LLM

Your practice areas:

Commercial law, Corporate governance and legal training for entrepreneurs.

The reaction when people find out you are a lawyer?

The most common reaction is

  1. “By the way I want to ask you for an opinion on something ” 😊

A major move in the last 5 years:

Starting a law firm and a Masters degree in the same year.

Why you chose to study law:

My interest was always to educate and represent people. That is what interested me in law.

Something you wish you could change about legal practice:

I wish it could be light, innovative and more inclusive.

What apps do you use to increase productivity OR apps you have to turn off to increase productivity:

  • Microsoft Outlook on both PC and phone
  • Slack
  • Skype & Whatsapp

How do you network:

Events, coffee sessions, talks and social media platforms.

I am an interactive person who is genuinely interested in people.

A beauty staple and closet item you can’t live without: 

Stila – Matte Red Liquid Lipstick

A white shirt and any navy suit

Describe your Werk style:

I like to wear pants and waistcoats , dark colours or checkered prints.

A time you made a mistake at work and how you bounced back:

When I forgot to introduce myself to a presiding officer in court  and had to apologise in front of a court full of other practitioners, fortunately she was a nice lady.

A physical or spiritual practice you have adopted:

  • I pray at specific times set on my alarm each day
  • I take long walks to clear my mind
  • I keep a journal especially in times of adversity

If not law, what would you be doing:

I would be a teacher.

Bad recommendations or assumptions about law that you often hear?

That the law is complex

 The best or most worthwhile investment you have ever made: 

Is deciding to turn adversity into life lessons so I could encourage others.

Major goal for the next 5 years:

To mentor more legal graduates and encourage them to start businesses.

Quote you live your life by:

“To hell with circumstances, I create opportunities”.  Bruce Lee

How can people get in touch with you to say hi?

LinkedIn: Yolelwa Sikunyana

Twitter: @Mayozas

Facebook: Yolelwa Bhelekazi Sikunyana

This week, we chat with Akunna Onwu who is an admitted advocate, professional coach and works at one of Africa’s leading banks as a regulatory specialist! Every Wednesday she posts inspirational and motivational Wisdom Wednesday videos, be sure to check out her social media profiles for a dose of encouragement!

 

Tell Us:

Your qualifications: 

Professional Coaching Certificate ( University of Cape Town Graduate School  of Business)

Associate Coaching Certificate  ( University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business)

LLM (University of the Western Cape and Humboldt Universitat zu Berlin)

LLB (University of Pretoria); Bcom Law (University of Pretoria)

Your practice areas:

African Regulatory Specialist.

A major move in the last 5 years:

 I decided to pursue a career in coaching, specifically around life and business coaching and so I went back to school to gain the necessary knowledge and skills in order to enhance and build on my talent and passion and in so doing, started my coaching business.

Why you chose to study law:  

To be honest, apart from the altruistic reason of wanting to positively influence and be the voice for the voiceless, an aunt of mine visited my home when I was about five years old, and I remember her looking absolutely gorgeous, so I asked her what she did and she said she was a lawyer.
From that day on, I decided that that was what I was going to be.

Something you wish you could change about legal practice: 

I would change the fact that while pursuing a law degree, the only options offered to you are either to become an attorney or an advocate. The idea of pursuing anything outside of those two fields and being successful in them, were not presented while I was in school which made it very difficult for me to decide on what to do since I really didn’t want to go into practice.

What apps do you use to increase productivity: 

I absolutely love is  my Flo app which is a period tracker & ovulation calculator that  accurately predicts my  menstrual cycle while offering cool insights as well.

A beauty staple and closet item you can’t live without:

My eyeliner- absolutely love it!

Accessories -I loooove earrings and a good pair of nude heels.

Describe your Werk style:

My style is subtle glamour yet bossed up chic. It’s very Jessica Pearson-esque from Suits.

A physical or spiritual practice you have adopted:

  •  I have started waking up at a specific time every morning to pray and I do it with a group of ladies. It’s teaching me discipline, so even if I want to sleep in late during the weekend, I know that I still need to get down on my knees at 6am to pray. It’s all about priority.
  • I attend a guided meditation session weekly as well as spiritual talks  on topics that feed my soul and build my spiritual foundation
  • I love taking long walks in the evening, but to be honest I haven’t done much of it lately. I think it’s time I get back to it and to exercising again.

 

 If not law, what would you be doing:

Well, I am doing something else apart form law which is being a life and business coach and a motivational speaker. I guess what I would add on would be a talk show host and media mogul like Oprah!

The best or most worthwhile investment you have ever made:

The best investment was in myself. I put myself through school for two years to get my accreditation as a Certified Integral Coach. It felt like a sacrifice at the time, but it’s been my greatest investment because it has allowed me to give back to others through coaching.

Major goal for the next 5 years:

To build a business that produces content that empowers, inspires transformation and brings about positive change in the world

 

To have my own talk show

To travel, travel, travel!!!

Quote you live your life by:  

1) God can’t give me something I cannot handle because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

2)There is enough sun for everyone

Where can people say “hi’ to you:

Email onwu.akunna@email.com

 

LinkedIn: Akunna Onwu

Instagram: @akunnaonwu

Facebook: akunnaonwu

 

This week our Werk Crush Wednesday is Megan Nicholas! I had the pleasure of working with her while I was in practice. I was drawn to her confidence and finally found another lawyer who was as loud as me!

Tell Us…

Your qualifications and achievements:

LLB (Wits), LLM (with distinction,Wits).

Hogan Lovells Associate Achiever Award Recipient.

Mail and Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans.

African Legal Awards Attorney of the Year Finalist 2017.

Standard Bank Rising Star Award Finalist 2017.

   Your practice areas:

Mining commercial law and litigation with emphasis on labour and environmental within the sector.

A major move in the last 5 years:

Purchasing my home and car without any assistance was a profound moment for me. The independence I sought through working so hard finally felt tangible.

Something you wish you could change about legal practice:

The rigidity of practice can often be suffocating. Working for large international law firms is fantastic in terms of the experience you gain however it comes with many rules and protocols that are a necessity for the protection of the organisation restrict individual growth in certain areas.

What apps do you use to increase productivity:

Whatsapp!  Much to my dismay clients prefer using Whatsapp for quick answers rather than drafting a formal email. This is tedious for attorneys who have to maintain files on all advice given to client as you can’t print and file a Whatsapp message. That being said, it is a more effective way for client to receive urgent advice and accordingly increases productivity.

How do you network:

I admit I need to work on networking more frequently and extending my network as I currently only attend firm hosted events.

A beauty staple and closet item you can’t live without:

Beauty Staple – Currently Maybelline Baby Skin Pore Eraser, prior to finding this product I would wear Mac foundation everyday, now I only use foundation for occasions.

Closet Staple – A tailored black blazer, you can pair it with anything and automatically look well put together. I also love a fitted black dress paired with a bright coloured blazer.

Describe your Werk style:

“Not your average lawyer”. During my induction training as a candidate attorney we received training from a woman who told the group that female attorneys should not wear very high heels or bright colours. I am a feminist who had written a mini thesis for my Masters degree on dress codes in the work place and the resultant gender discrimination. So I wear high heels and bright colors everyday as my form of protest against antiquated gender norms and it has never affected my progression.

 

A time you made a mistake at work and how you bounced back:

In my first year as a candidate attorney I paginated a 700 page pleadings bundle and erroneously added the notice of intention to oppose, my numbering was accordingly incorrect from page 52 and I only realized my mistake after I had hand delivered the court file to the judge and it was raised by our opponent. My director at the time wasn’t the nicest man but he didn’t shout at me, he waged a full on war with our opponent. We won the matter and the judge had no issue with the pagination.

At that moment I realized I would never shout at a candidate attorney if I had not properly trained them in how to execute a task prior to any mistake being made.

If not law, what would you be doing:

Medicine.

 

Bad recommendations or assumptions about law that you often hear:

“We can fix it later” I’m an attorney not a magician, if a client chooses to unfairly dismiss an employee or act contrary to the law, without following the procedure I prescribe, I cannot fix it later.

The best or most worthwhile investment you have ever made:

Deciding to do my LLM and full time practical legal training before entering the working world. It prepared me for the transition which was accordingly much easier for me than for my peers.

Major goal for the next 5 years:

I want to pursue my own business interests, outside of practice.

 

Quote you live your life by:

“Whatever you are, be a good one” – Abraham Lincoln

How can people get in touch with you:

LinkedIn: Megan Nicholas

Social media handles: megznic

This week we chat with Sylvie, a French speaking lawyer who was trained in the Democratic Republic of Congo and is currently running a consultancy in Johannesburg, South Africa.

1) Your qualifications:

I am a registered lawyer in the DRC and work in South Africa as a legal consultant specialised in African french speaking countries general business law.

2) Your practice areas:

Business law including labour, commercial, corporate etc.

3) A major move in the last 5 years:

I am completing a LLM in International Business Law online in a British university which was one of my oldest dreams. Coming from a french speaking country, I wanted to do my post graduate studies in an English speaking country to understand the difference between civil and common law.

 

4) Something you wish you could change about legal practice:

In South Africa, the access to the Law Societies and  Bars is reserved to persons who studied law locally. I would love to change this rule by submitting foreign lawyers to a test before admitting them.

5) How do you network:

By introduction from former clients or colleagues, and by joining networking events.

6) When stressed or overwhelmed, what do you do to refocus:

First I pray about that and then I speak to myself and remind myself that God is in control and that He will not send me something that I can’t handle. I reminded myself that there is a way and God will show it to me.

7) A time you made a mistake at work and how you bounced back:

I was charged to continue a litigation started by a colleague. The case was to be heard in another courtroom than where I went to so I ended up in the  wrong courtroom. The client was delayed but I showed extra attention to that case and I end up winning in court.

8) A physical or spiritual practice you have adopted:

I usually pray about every aspect of the work I am doing. I also pray for the parties and as God for the best way out. I am the kind of lawyer who favorite transaction over litigation and is looking for a solution and not creating a problem.

9) If not law, what would you be doing:

If I could not practice as a lawyer, I would be a legal advisor or a legal consultant like I am already.  Alternatively I would be teaching law or managing an online legal library/bookstore.

10) The best or most worthwhile investment you have ever made:

Definitely doing my LLM. I cost me a lot of time and money but I do not regret it at all. It grew me.

11) Major goal for the next 5 years:

Start my Doctorate.  Establish the online African legal library I am working on.  Head the EMEA legal department of a Multinational and expand my African legal consultancy business.

12)  Quote you live your life by:

I do not have only one quote to live by. I build my live daily based on the Bible. If I can chose one it will be fear God and love others like myself.

How can people get in touch with you to say “hi”:

LinkedIn: Sylvie Lukengu Mihigo

Thank you Sylvie! Comment below on what you learnt from her work, style and journey 🙂