I met Lebo at our first The Legal Werk Brunch and she has been a super member ever since that meeting! I am encouraged to keep doing this because of people like Lebo and seeing her Work, Lifestyle and Journey thrive from Johannesburg to London! Lebo is currently participating in the International Lawyers For Africa (“ILFA”) secondment program in London she applied for after seeing the advert on The Legal Werk!
1) Your qualifications
I hold and an LLB from the University of the Witwatersrand and an LLM in Commercial and Business Law from the University of the Witwatersrand.
I am an in-house lawyer, and my role is a Senior Legal Advisor at the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa Limited (‘IDC’).
2) Your practice areas:
Finance (Corporate Finance and Project Finance)
3) The reaction when people find out you are a lawyer:
They are surprised! Some people still think lawyers are supposed to be old men. I was once asked to come help with drafting an urgent agreement for a high-profile transaction. When I walked the lady said “How are you the lawyer? You look like you are 12 years old.”
4) Why you chose to study law:
Growing up I wanted to be a Chartered Accountant because that is what was cool at that time. However, as time went by, I didn’t enjoy my accounting classes as much as I used to. On the other hand, when we started looking at South African history in my history classes, I started enjoying history a lot. The role of human rights lawyers during the apartheid era started attracting me to law. However, when I got to university, I didn’t enjoy the human rights law subjects as much as I enjoyed the commercial law subjects. When I was introduced to the law of contract and banking and finance law, it was love at first encounter and I have never looked back since.
5) Something you wish you could change about the legal industry:
Billable hours in private practice! I think billable hours deprive young lawyers of the opportunity to immerse themselves in all aspects of a transaction. Everyone is watching the bill so there isn’t time to for a young lawyer to get into the nitty gritty of a transaction outside the legal aspect. There isn’t time (because you are watching the clock) to learn and fully appreciate the commercial/business elements of a client’s business (i.e. financially how does the client’s company run and technically how does the client’s business work). An external commercial lawyer that understands the ins and outs of his/her client’s business beyond the legals, is a keeper.
6) What role has mentorship played in your career?
I haven’t had formal mentorship. However, I have had informal mentorship and a lot of ad hoc guidance has played an important role in my career. I don’t know everything and my career would not be where it is today had it not been for the guidance and support of others.
7) What’s your “Go-To” beauty staple and/or closet item?
It has to definitely be my 2 black dresses. I have had these 2 dresses since my law firm days (almost 6 years ago) and they have stood the test of time. If I gain 10kgs or lose 5kgs, they always fit.
8) Describe your Werk style
Formal dresses, pencil skirts, formal shirts and suits.
9) Do you shop online or in-store?
I am an in-store dinosaur
10) The places I would like to go on vacation to are:
I want to visit each country in Africa, starting with the ones that are represented at the 2019 ILFA Programme. The countries represented at the 2019 ILFA Programme are Ethiopia,Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Sudan, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe!
11)A physical or spiritual practice you have adopted in the last 5 years:
12) If not law, what would you be doing:
Mentorship and career development.
13) Can you share something you are struggling with right now?
I struggle with networking but I am improving. A big part of the ILFA Programme is networking and working the network. That has been very helpful and I believe I am much better at it now than I was 1 month ago.
14) A major move in the last 5 years:
Professionally, moving to IDC and joining the development finance space. Personally, definitely spoiling my mom.
15) Major goal for the next 5 years:
- Lots of international experience through studies, work and leisure.
- Coming into contact with and assisting at least 50 young people aspiring to join the legal profession and young lawyers already in the profession. The assistance will either be in the form of providing formal mentorship, providing guidance and job exposure/job shadowing across the different options available to lawyers.
16) When stressed or overwhelmed or lost focus temporarily, what do you do to refocus:
Take a break for 10 minutes or so and physically move away from what I am doing (it is usually a walk to the kitchen to make a cup of tea or coffee)
17) Complete the following statements:
I think legal tech will.. reduce the amount of reading that lawyers have to do and in turn free up their time to focus on other things.
The role of a lawyer is ..to help others.
- In my quietest moments I am most grateful for….my mother.
- What I know for sure, that I didn’t know when I left law school, is that there are so many other exciting alternatives to being in practice/ a practicing attorney. No one is born an expert on how to apply the law/the practical aspect of the law with exposure, practice, time and commitment, anyone can do it.
How can people get in touch with you:
LinkedIn: Lebogang Ramokone
Social media handles?