This seasons final interview is Ilza Le Minnie! She has worked as a criminal defence lawyer and her passion for restorative justice has led to the start a foundation to rehabilitate offenders. I met her a year ago as part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship and I was honestly intimated by her.  She’s tall, vocal and no nonsense when you meet her. Yet, in actuality she is kind, gentle, friendly and the life of the party.

We all have our views on criminals and crime, this was very eye opening for me and a fantastic way to end this season on interviews!

Tell Us

 

Your qualifications:

  I have a LLB from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and I have been employed at Rossouw & Du Plessis a boutique law firm in Malmesbury, Cape Town since January 2018. I was previously employed with Legal Aid South Africa 2012 to 2017.

Your practice areas:
I practiced mainly in criminal law from 2012 to 2015.  I also work in civil litigation including divorces, civil claims, children’s court, family court and all other fields of litigation.

The reaction when people find out you are a lawyer:

Many people are excited and surprised because I look so young!  A lot of young people are impressed and immediately want to connect with me about my journey.

A major move in the last 5 years:

Last year I was selected as a Mandela Washington Fellow and attended the fellowship at Texas Tech University in Lubbock Texas which really opened doors for me. When I returned from the fellowship I started my own foundation “The Le Minnie Foundation” which will be the blanket organization for different projects. I left my job at Legal Aid SA to enable me to have more time to focus on my other projects.

Our first two projects are underway, firstly “Project Restore”which uses agricultural training and skills development to rehabilitate offenders. The second project is  “I am Coloured”, this is a documentary about coloured people in a 2018 South Africa especially in relation to the current land issues.

Why you chose to study law:

My mother was a prison warden and I got to spend a lot of time around inmates. I got to know them as people and not has their crimes and it frustrated me that so many were just sent to jail whereas there was actually a problem with a more social aspect that needs to be addressed, however those without money do not have anyone to speak for them. My mother always went the extra mile to try and help the inmates and then I decided I would study law and stop them from going to jail in the first place.

Something you wish you could change about legal practice:
There needs to be a larger focus on restorative justice and rehabilitation in our criminal justice system and not just a system of punishment. There is so much paperwork –  its definitely time we go digital!

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

There is a new legal software called HotDocs which is very helpful in drafting and I would be lost without my calendar and email.

 How do you network:
Well I am learning to play golf for the purpose of  networking, however I have found that having great relationships with the court staff and other attorneys, presiding officers and court role players have been the most beneficial. Most of my new clients have seen me in court or been referred by a client.

Whats your “Go-To” beauty staple and closet item:
Victoria Secret Perfume – Amber (I work in the court holding cells a lot and this provides a unique escape from the unsanitary conditions I find myself in).

Describe your Werk style:

 I have a very unique style! I have completely moved away from the black, grey and blue for court and try to incorporate colours, patterns and textures into my usually boring court attire. I also try wearing more clothes that send a strong feminine message rather than attempt to interpret the masculine attire.

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

 I once put an accused into the witness box without fully preparing him and he was only asked one question by the prosecutor and confessed to the offence… this was after months of trial. I completely forgot to tell the client not to answer any self-incriminating questions. That has never happened again.

A physical or spiritual practice you have adopted:
I have learned to forgive. I work with what most would describe as the worst people on earth. The rapists, murderers and drug dealers of society and I have learned to not judge them and to forgive those who condemn them as if they are nothing.

If not law, what would you be doing:
Teaching English Literature – somewhere beautiful oh and writing poetry.

Bad recommendations or assumptions about law that you often hear:
People often assume that lawyers lie and manipulate the truth – that is so untrue as the cost of not being honest in the legal profession is too costly for an attorney. You could so easily be removed from the attorneys roll, which no-one want to do.

Can you share something you are struggling with right now:
I took a matter from a colleague which was way beyond my experience and information that lead to me having months of extra research and work. I eventually got the client acquitted, the time management skills and research techniques that taught me are invaluable. I also value all of the vacations I take, they make me want to work harder so I can take more vacations.

Major goal for the next 5 years:

I am going to have my own practice.

Quote you live your life by:

 The true success of a servant leader is when you no longer see her own interests in her work, rather that of those she leads. – me 2017

Where can people find you say hi: 

LinkedIn:  Ilza Le Minnie

Instagram: @princess_ilza

Twitter: @ilza_law

I am so excited about this weeks Werk Crush Wednesday because we met at vacation work in 2009 and went on to do articles together and get admitted in the same year. Its always wonderful to grow with your colleagues. Thethe specialises in  Construction and Engineering as well as General Commercial Litigation and was recognised by Who’s Who Legal for her work in Litigation.

If Suits was still filming another season,  I would recommend Thethe to fill in for Duchess Megan Markle, because she is as stylish as her!

 

Tell us: 

Your qualifications

Bachelor of Laws (LLB) University of the Witwatersrand;

Admitted Attorney of the High Court of South Africa (5 years);

Federation Internationale des Iingenieurs Conselis standard form construction contracts (University of Pretoria Continuing Education);

NEC Engineering & Construction Contract 3 Black Book (Binnington Copeland & Associates (Pty) Ltd now HKA Global); and

Engineering & Construction Contracts (Law Society of Society of South Africa)

Accreditations – Who’s Who Legal, South Africa (Litigation)

Your practice areas:

International and local arbitrations

Construction and Engineering

General commercial litigation

The reaction when people find out you are a lawyer:

People are generally shocked because I apparently look so young that they can’t imagine me in a “confrontational” role. Most of them go on tell me they will call me if they ever get arrested which is bizarre. I find that there is a lot of misconception about what lawyers do and most people assume that all we do is defend criminals or the fictional depiction of lawyers they see on television shows.

A major move in the last 5 years:

Being seconded to our London Office’s Disputes Team for 3 months. The amount of personal growth that I went through in those 3 months changed my life. I came back a different person.

Why you chose to study law:

Law was actually my second or third choice because becoming an accountant was the “in thing” at the time. There is so much about what being a lawyer is that resonates with who I am though, that I now know I could never have gone into any other profession. I am a natural problem solver (those closest to me will attest to this) and as a child I read everything under the sun which prepared me from an early age to read large volumes of documents. I love analysing everything, I’m the person who pauses Game of Thrones every 5 minutes to analyse what is happening and debating where the storyline is going and giving advice on what the best move would be.

Something you wish you could change about legal practice:

Billable Hours!

How do you network:

Very informally. I try to attend as many sector specific seminars and functions as possible. I am active on LinkedIn and I am working on my social networking skills.

Whats your “Go-To” beauty staple and closet item?: 

Mascara (Clinique High Impact Mascara) and eyeliner (MAC). I started wearing foundation in my final year of university and I used foundation and bronzer full time during articles, which I don’t do anymore. I prefer to let my skin to breathe now and I just don’t have the time to apply makeup every morning.

Closet item(s) is a good pair of black pointy heels and black high waist trousers.

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

Lately I find that going for a run or walk helps a lot with releasing pent up stress. If I am working from home and I can take a power nap, I always find that to be the most effective.

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

I had a correspondent who sent a notice of bar late a day late and I calculated the date of filing of the plea from the date I received the notice by mistake. Our plea was filed a day later, very early in the morning though, but we had effectively been barred at that stage.

The opposing attorney would not grant me an indulgence even though I called immediately and alerted him to the situation. I had to make my supervising director and client aware of the situation, which I did. We had to file for condonation, which was granted but the moral of the story is always to double check when notices were actually served on correspondents!

A physical or spiritual practice you have adopted:

I pray a LOT! People aren’t always aware of how religious I am. My mother is a praying woman and she has taught me to pray for and over everything. I pray at the start of every arbitration, for every trial, I pray for my presentations and meetings if I am feeling nervous. I pray in the car to work, sometimes silently and sometimes I verbalize my prayers.

My faith is at the centre of everything I am and do. I am able to get over a lot of negative things at work and in my personal life because of my faith.

If not law, what would you be doing:

As a child I wanted to be a journalist because I loved reading and writing, nothing excited me more than writing essays! I would probably be a fashion journalist though, I love love love clothes and fashion.

Bad recommendations or assumptions about law that you often hear?

People assume that lawyers do everything and they don’t understand how specialized the legal profession has become. Yes we have general practitioners but not all of us can represent you at your divorce mediation or attend to your cousin’s bail application. People also assume that we are argumentative and confrontational.

Can you share something you are struggling with right now?

Balance. I have other roles outside of my career, I am a wife/daughter/friend, amongst many things and I struggle with giving all the other roles as much attention because my career tends to be the main focus. I am working very hard on this though.

The best or most worthwhile investment you have ever made? 

Spiritually it’s my relationship with God, emotionally my marriage and best friendship with my husband and financially it’s our home.

Major goal for the next 5 years:

To have positioned myself as an expert in my practice area and to pursue that LLM that I have been delaying. My gran reminded me of that the other day J.

Quote you live your life by:

I’m not one for quotes but I do believe that we can achieve anything we put our minds to, if we are brave enough to take the first step, walk the hard road and persevere. God will take care of the rest.

How can people get in touch with you:

Email: thethe.mokele@hoganlovells.com

LinkedIn: Thethe Mokele

Instagram: the.the_m

While I was in Lagos, Nigeria I had the wonderful opportunity to meet this week Werk Crush Wednesday, Derin Fagbure who is the editor of In Black and White (@inblack_and_white) where she talks about the law of business in a way that is relatable to start up entrerepeneurs. She is a Senior Associate in the Business and Transaction Support Group of a Lagos, Nigeria based law firm called Esher & Makarios.

 

 

Tell Us:

Your Qualifications:
I am a graduate of Igbinedion University and I have a Master’s Degree in Corporate Law from University College London. I am a member of the African Society of Crowdfunding. My column “In Black and White” which is published in Thisday Law discusses innovations in corporate governance and finance. I am passionate about entrepreneurs and write regularly on legal structures for SMEs through my brand “In Black and White”.

Your practice areas: 
I am a corporate lawyer with interest in corporate finance, corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions. I am particularly passionate about the need to establish legal structures for small businesses.

The reaction when people find out you are a lawyer:  
I typically get this response. “Oh Barrister! Thank God I am free to get into trouble, knowing that you will defend me.”  (I dislike the use of the appellation Barrister by the way).


 A major move in the last 5 years:
The opportunity to go on secondment to an international law firm was exciting. I am most grateful to God for becoming a Senior Associate which was a major move for me. Growing and developing the “In Black and White” brand which is aimed at creating business law awareness for entrepreneurs is another move that I am thankful for.

Why you chose to study law: 
When I was 5 years old my Aunt’s picture at her call to bar ceremony caught my attention and inspired me to want to become a lawyer- I liked how she looked in her wig and gown. I asked my mum who is a Chartered Accountant if she and my dad had any uniform and she said their uniform was their suits. I did not fancy that and so I made up my mind to be a lawyer!

My dad, may his soul rest in peace,  took my friend and I to watch a court room proceeding during our vacation and this further sparked my interest.

Something you wish you could change about legal practice: 
I appreciate the need to preserve the traditional nature of the legal profession but also think it is important to infuse some modernity into the way we practice law. Technology and its advantages should be embraced to the fullest. The use of legalese in drafting is something I am uncomfortable with. For me, the simpler, the better.

Also I am extremely passionate about young lawyers and I believe the profession has been quite unfair to young lawyers. The welfare of the younger members of the legal profession should be prioritized with attention being given to pay structure, conditions of work and work environment. The importance of a conducive work environment to efficiency and productivity cannot be over-emphasized.

How do you network:
I am quite active in my local bar association. I currently serve as the Chairman of the Young lawyers Association. I look out for and attend conferences that are relevant to my areas of interest. I call that deliberate networking.

I am very good with faces (even if I say so myself) and so I never have a tough time remembering people I meet at events. I am currently making a conscious effort to keep in touch and communicate regularly with the people in my tribe.  My tribe is valuable to me because we share ideas, collaborate and strengthen each other.

I am open to coffee dates and lunch meetings because I find it easier to have valuable conversation over a good meal. I guess there is nothing wrong with liking good food.

Whats your “Go-To” beauty staple and closet item? 
My Ruby Woo lipstick any day anytime. A pop of red makes all the difference even on the dullest of days. For my closet item, I would say a black dress works for me any day any time. I also cannot do without my pearls, too. I think they give a classy and professional look.

Describe your Werk style: 
My style personality is dramatic and elegant. I create drama with my accessories. A brooch here, a scarf there. I wear a lot of dresses too. I am not one to wear a lot of colours. I love black and white in all forms, stripes, polka dots, houndstooth, etc. I dress down on Fridays- jeans and an infusion of African prints, if I am not going to court or attending a formal meeting.

When stressed or overwhelmed, what do you do to refocus: 
Grab a bar of chocolate or drink a cup of green tea.


A physical or spiritual practice you have adopted: 
My daily goal is to be closer to my God. My best spiritual practice is worship, because I see worship as a way of expressing my gratitude to the One who was, is and will always be. Anyone who knows me well knows I love singing.

My nursery school report once said “Derin loves singing and dancing”. My dad seeing this comment, advised me not to make a career in singing and dancing!

If not law, what would you be doing: 
Law, law and law again.

Bad recommendations or assumptions about law that you often hear:
I often frown when people say lawyers are liars. I also do not like the assumption that lawyers are trouble makers.

What would you say to yourself in the first year of university:
I wish I had done a lot more socially. I had good grades in my first year but I could participated in more extra-curricular activities. I have undergraduate mentors and I always tell them the importance of playing the balancing game.  Probably, I should have taken part in competition which would have given me a greater opportunity to develop a wider field of influence.

Can you share something you are struggling with right now?
I am working on being better on managing my emotions. I think sometimes I get too emotional and sentimental. I also need to learn how to say no, I guess this is tied to being overly emotional. 

Major goal for the next 5 years:
5 years is a long time. When I say a long time, I mean sufficient time to make life changing decisions. I trust that I would be a better person, both personally and career wise. I believe strongly in personal and career development. Therefore I have highlighted a number of courses I would like to do to in order to better position myself career wise- so I want to go back to school.

Quote you live your life by: 
To put my damn best into all I do. My mum and dad always said I should work for a 110% if my goal is to get an A. I strive to do that. I must admit that it is not the easiest of things!

I met our Werk Crush Wednesday exactly a year ago while was at the University of Notre Dame for the Mandela Washington Fellowship! Karrah Miller is the Director of Public Affairs at the University of Notre Dame, and it was so inspiring for me to see a young lawyer playing this role in a world renowned institution and also in the community. We still owe each other night of tacos and chakalaka!

 

 

Your qualifications 

  • I am the Director of Public Affairs at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN, USA.

Your practice areas:
I previously focused on Employment Law issues when I was the Director of the Office of Institutional Equity at Notre Dame (4 years). This included laws regarding harassment/discrimination, accessibility of individuals with disabilities and affirmative action equal opportunity programs.

The reaction when people find out you are a lawyer:
Some people are shocked, perhaps because they are not used to interacting with young, black females operating in leadership capacities at predominantly white organizations. However, as I have aged, people seem less surprised. Many older people in the black community are extremely proud and often share kind words of support and encouragement.

A major move in the last 5 years:
This past year has been a whirlwind! I have had so many positive major changes happening. Last October I got engaged in Dublin, Ireland to my amazing fiancé, Mr. Ray Herring. He is my rock. My life is so much more balanced now that I have his love, support and encouragement.

In April of this year, I made a career move. After 6 and ½ years of doing quasi-legal work in the Office of Human Resources at Notre Dame as the Director of the Office of Institutional Equity, I was named Director of Public Affairs at Notre Dame. This new role allows me to engage with our campus and surrounding communities in ways that will benefit both the University and city of South Bend. In this new role I am working with local city and state government affairs, the various school corporations, many non-profit organizations, and soon a team of us will be starting a diversity supplier initiative to help drive some of our contract dollars to small, women and minority businesses.

On top of all that, I am planning a wedding and my fiancé and I are building our first home together. I feel so blessed to be alive and doing God’s work.

Why you chose to study law:
I wanted to help my family and the black community gain access to support with and understanding of various contract, real estate, and taxation and business laws.

Something you wish you could change about legal practice:
I wish the expenses and debts students have to incur to become lawyers in the U.S. were not so burdensome. Additionally, so many of the major law firms and positions of influence in our government lack ethnic, racial and gender diversity. This creates challenges for women and people of color to get opportunities in those fields. We have to diversify the top and expand our networks!

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

  •   Instagram-   I am currently working on a book and I have an LLC called Lucy Mina Consulting, IG helps me increase awareness of my business and skills. It helps me promote my work and events. However, when it is time to get busy writing or preparing to teach a class or lead a workshop, I have to shut it down.
  •  YouVersion Bible App daily for time with God to read His word and gain spiritual wisdom, guidance and encouragement.
  •  Netflix- I love the app! I am currently binge watching a show called Reign, every chance I get on the weekends.
  •   iTunes and Tidal- I am a music head! My sister and brothers are musicians. My brother was nominated for a Grammy a few years back and my sister is currently in Cameroon, Africa performing at a music event.
  • Pinterest has so many wedding and house ideas. I’m addicted.

 

How do you network:
I attend a lot of community events, conferences for work and even when I am at social events or events with my siblings, I am mindful to keep business cards on deck and have my elevator speech ready to go.

Whats your “Go-To” beauty staple and closet item:
I must have Nivea lotion and Dove soap because of my dry skin!

As for my makeup, I am obsessed with Nars Cosmetics Concealers and Lipstick and Bare Minerals Powder. I am a Sephora VIB Rouge Member for sure. I could shop there every other day!

When stressed or overwhelmed, what do you do to refocus?
Church, prayer, family time and alone time! I also love running- that is a huge stress reliever.

A time you made a mistake at work and how you bounced back:
I misread a legal document which cost my company a little money, and got drilled by the head of our legal team. It was one of the worst experiences ever- but it created resilience and serious obsession with attention to detail. That never happened again.

A physical or spiritual practice you have adopted:
I read my Bible daily, I attend worship service every Sunday and I attend Bible study every Wednesday. My walk with God is the most important thing I have. I also tithe to my church FAITHFULLY! I need to increase my prayer life, and I that is something I am working on.

If not law, what would you be doing:
Writing and acting!! I want to write books, speak at conferences and act! I have always loved acting and performed quite a bit as school aged child. That is my passion and I would do it in a heartbeat.

Bad recommendations or assumptions about law that you often hear?
Lawyers lie for a living. That is simply not true. There are bad lawyers, but there are also bad doctors, and preachers and plumbers and chefs. No profession is without its flaws. Most of the lawyers I know are working hard to help their clients in ethical and legally sound ways.

Can you share something you are struggling with right now:
I struggle with people not liking me for no reason. Five hundred people could be cheering me on and supporting my every move, but I tend to focus on the few people who have negative things to say about me. I struggle letting those things go. When people harm me or offend me, I tend to give too much energy to those thoughts. If I had a magic wand I could wave over myself that would help me “not care what people think”  or “what people have said about me that is inaccurate; I would do it in a heartbeat. It is extremely hurtful to me when people misjudge me and I need to learn to let those things go.

The second thing I am struggling with is I have been single and independent for a long time. I have a great career, I own property and I have done well with accomplishing my professional goals. I soon get to merge my life with someone else (finances, homes, goals, etc.), and it feels a little scary. As a black woman, I never want to lose the ability to have my own success and accomplishments, but I must learn to be comfortable with my future husband taking the lead. This is scary for me. I’ll be honest and say haven’t been doing a great job at it, but I am owning up to that and learning to “be quiet” and let him take the lead.

The best or most worthwhile investment you have ever made? 
I don’t know if it was “the best” thing, but getting my law degree was one of the smartest things I have done. It opened so many doors for me. I have a great career, which has allowed me to create a great life for my daughter Brianna and me. It has also allowed me to be able to give substantially to my church and other charities. And this great career led me to my future husband. All that has happened thanks to my law degree opening doors for me at Notre Dame. Ultimately, though, I know God is in control of it all, and I will forever serve Him because He has never failed me.

Major goal for the next 5 years:
In the next 5 years, I hope to be totally independent from any major organization and thriving as an author and entrepreneur.

Quote you live your life by:
I don’t have a quote I live by, but I have a scripture I live by, Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

Where can people find you to say hi:

LinkedIn:  Karrah A. Miller, J.D.

Instagram: Karrah_Miller Follow me!

Company Website: Lucy Mina Consulting, LLC: https://www.lucyminaconsulting.com/

The power of social media has brought us this weeks Werk Crush Wednesday, Rukayatu Tijani- I found her online and became an instant fan – her food posts alone deserve honourable mention! She is an associate at Quinn Emanuel Urqhuart and Sullivan’s – the worlds largest law firm that is devoted solely to business litigation and arbitration. She works from the Silicon Valley office and she is barred to practice in both the State of New York and California. In all these winning ways, Ruky has made championing diversity and giving back part of her mission. I am happy she agreed to share her story with us!

Tell Us…

 

Your qualifications:

I am currently a Fourth Year Associate at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan.I attended the University at Albany for College and UC Berkeley School of Law for Law School. I am also barred to Practice in both California and New York.

Your practice areas:

Right now, I am a general practitioner but I’m working on cases in patent law, trademark and copyright, and employee negligence.

The reaction when people find out you are a lawyer:

Many people are excited and surprised because I look so young!  A lot of young people are impressed and immediately want to connect with me about my journey.

A major move in the last 5 years:

I became a senior clerk in my Judge’s chambers during my clerkship.  This means I had the amazing opportunity to train junior clerks, coordinate the calendar of my judge, and dole out the assignments for junior clerks. I also spearheaded and coordinated a program called the “Extern Speakers Series,”​ a diversity summer program where practitioners and officers of the legal community speak with legal externs about their experiences. During the discussions, externs received practical guidance for becoming a “big shot”​ in the legal field.  Externs were introduced to a Ninth Circuit Judge, several District Court Judges, Assistant United State Attorneys, Federal Defenders, and a myriad of other practitioners.

Lastly, I’m helping my mother find a residential program for my brother, who has Downs Syndrome and autism.  That is one of my greatest accomplishments thus far.

Why you chose to study law:

I chose to study law because it grants a real opportunity to make change in communities I most identify with. It’s an amazing catalyst for change.

Something you wish you could change about legal practice:

The opportunities for every day citizens to serve on the jury pool.  Juries have the unique ability to determine the outcome in many of the cases in our legal system.  Making sure that juries truly represent a cross section in the community is something I aim to work towards as I continue in my career.

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

Google calendar; equinox gym sign up, google sheets (I use this app to track my budget and schedule for the week).

How do you network:

Social media and networking events. Putting pictures of my everyday life on social media to bring diversity to the discussion of what lawyers look like.

Whats your “Go-To” beauty staple and closet item:

Black radiance foundation and Iman lip gloss.

Describe your Werk style:

Casual with a lot of bright colors and pastels.

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

I pray and seek out help from friends and family.  I also go to therapy and church regularly.

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

I missed a huge deadline during my clerkship, but I asked for an extension, worked around the clock to finish the assignment, asked co-workers for their help and input, and finished the assignment successfully.

A physical or spiritual practice you have adopted:

Prayer, reading my bible, church, listening to sermons and motivational podcasts.

If not law, what would you be doing:

Public policy work and likely theatre (Hamilton is calling my name… haha).

Bad recommendations or assumptions about law that you often hear?

I can’t recall.  And it’s likely because I make it a point not to focus on the bad and take time to simply be grateful for the privilege of practicing law.  I’m really really blessed.

Can you share something you are struggling with right now? 

I wouldn’t characterize it as “struggling,” but I am learning to better say no to assignments and opportunities that are not in alignment with my purpose and calling as an attorney.  This keeps me from getting burned out and I’m getting stronger at this everyday.

The best or most worthwhile investment you have ever made? 

Investing in professional development and coaching with Momentum Education.

Major goal for the next 5 years:

Raising a family and becoming a better lawyer.

Quote you live your life by:

Keep going.  God is working.

Where can people find you say hi: 

LinkedIn: Rukayatu Tijani

Instagram: @RukyOfTheYear

This week we chat with Nomakhosi Sandi from my city of birth Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. She is a litigation lawyer who has turned into a commercial lawyer! If you are looking to make a switch in your practice area, keep reading below for some inspiration!

Your qualifications:

I started off with doing a Higher National Diploma in Legal studies. I did this Blackburn College, East Lancashire. From the 40 or so students who registered, I was the only to complete and graduate in my class.

I then went on to do my LLB (hons) at Northampton University, in Northampton, UK and I graduated in 2012.

I currently work with Titan Law, GN Mlotshwa & Co, in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Which is a corporate/commercial focused firm, and is my main interest in law.

Your practice areas:

When I initially got registered as a legal practitioner, I was interested in doing all areas of law. This was mostly because I was keen in putting into practice what I learnt at university, so I mostly did civil litigation, and criminal law.

My interests have however shifted to corporate and commercial law, such as working on company mergers and take overs.

A major move in the last 5 years:

I think my major move has always been in going after the job/position I want. When you look at my C.V. you will see that I have changed jobs 3 times. One may assume it is because I don’t know what I want or I am flight risk. I look at it as going after my goal and dream job. Leaving one firm for another has been one of those things I’ve had to do so as to practice in my area of interest.

Why you chose to study law:

To be honest, my parents chose it for me,  but I fell in love with it when I was in university.

Something you wish you could change about legal practice:

In my country (Zimbabwe) I would change the efficiency of our courts system. Its frustrating to await months to complete a trial because the record has not been transcribed as we do not have stenographers. The Magistrates have to write down everything for themselves, and sometimes they miss out a few things.

How do you network:

I attend business meeting and luncheons. I also go to business awards and events.

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

Beauty staple is my lipstick – ruby woo byMac.

Closet item are my black heels.

A physical or spiritual practice you have adopted:

I recently started working out, at least 6 times a week. My aim is to make it a lifestyle change, taking care of my health.

If not law, what would you be doing:

Most likely property development- buying and renovating houses then selling them off.

Bad recommendations or assumptions about law that you often hear?

The law is only for the rich people. That’s not always the case.  Just because you cannot afford a lawyer, does not mean you cannot have one. The State provides a lawyer.

The best or most worthwhile investment you have ever made? 

The best investment is investing in my personal development.

Major goal for the next 5 years:

To own my own property development company.

Quote you live your life by:

Too glam to give a damn.

Where can people find you to say hi:

LinkedIn: Nomakhosi Sandi

Instagram : khosii_theequeenb

Twitter :@Mis_khosii

We hear a lot of excuses around a lack of diversity in race and gender especially with complex commercial law transactions. Today, it is an absolute honour to chat with Silindile Mbuli who is a top tier commercial lawyer and is Legal Counsel for Thomson-Reuters in Sub-Saharan Africa.I met Silindile when we were both associates in a law firm, so its great to see her thriving beyond practice.   She is an avid traveler and her Instagram will leave you so envious!

 

Tell Us:

Your qualifications 

I have an LLB from the University of KwaZulu Natal.

Your practice areas:

Corporate/Commercial law and Compliance.

 

The reaction when people find out you are a lawyer:

Most common is “So you lie for a living?!”

A major move in the last 5 years:

Leaving practice to pursue a career in corporate.  There is sometimes a misconstrued perception that if you leave practice before making partner you failed to succeed in your career and that for me was my biggest worry – not knowing whether I had made the right decision or not. In the end I have no regrets and I am more fulfilled now with the work that I do than I ever was in practice.

Why you chose to study law:

I grew up witnessing a lot of hardship in my community and in my family. I was surrounded by people suffering from societal ills  like women abuse,  alcohol abuse, child neglect, unlawful arrests to poverty political wars. This was I call the after-shock of apartheid and it completely broke my heart. It affected me emotionally and mentally, and as an introvert I could not express myself.

Law was a way for me to get an opportunity to make a difference in our society, even if it was small. I wanted to fight for something, for someone and justice became my opportunity to speak up and make a difference.

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

Wunderlist is my second brain. I use it to sort organize my professional and personal life. I found that without a second brain I would lie awake at night thinking about all the things I needed to do and things I forgot to do.

I attended a Work Smarter Not Harder productivity workshop in 2017 hosted by CFO South Africa. Since then I have become so much better at knowing that once I have transferred my ideas or thoughts on to another brain they are safe and chances of me forgetting to execute on them are slim. It definitely keeps me focused on my blue chips.

How do you network:

My preferred platform is one on one coffee sessions – that way you have that person’s full attention and you can get real value out of the conversation.

I also have regular catch-up video conference meetings with lawyers outside of South Africa. I find that connecting with professionals in other jurisdictions really puts into perspective the type of work that other lawyers are exposed on a global scale. It helps me to think outside the box.

I also  attend the Boardwalk networking breakfast hosted by Business Engage. It’s an event created to nurture the development of aspiring directors who are currently in senior management positions within medium to large companies.

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

Beauty staples:  Smashbox matte lipstick and gold blush palette.

Closet items: I have too many shoes to pick a favourite , but if there was a fire the first two I’d grab are my over-the-knee boots from Steve Madden and my Puma sneakers

Describe your Werk style:

Depending on whether I am seeing clients or not I interchange between smart casual and formal, but high heels are a must every day.

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

I’m usually the last one to stress especially about work. If I stress at work it usually transcends to home, which means I am not the best ME on that day to give my full attention to my almost 2 year old son. If I do reach that point though I put on my earphones and listen to Drake or Jay-Z for an hour or so.

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

I miscalculated a billing period for a key client and we ended up having to reverse the invoice that should not have been issued in the first place. It took me a long time to approach my Manager to tell him about it. But I learnt that everybody makes mistakes. People around you are more forgiving when you admit to your mistakes and own them.

A physical or spiritual practice you have adopted:

Being a new mom my sleeping patterns have changed so much. I used to have 8 hours of sleep before I had a baby but now its down to about 4 hours on a good night. I had to quickly learn to take care of my mind and body to avoid burning out in the day time.

I spend 10 minutes first thing in the morning to plan my day and most importantly, count my blessings. Then I’m ready to tackle anything. I also am more focused now on eating clean and staying healthy whereas before I never hesitated to grab takeaways.

If not law, what would you be doing:

Interior Design! I love beautiful spaces. I’m always shopping for decor items and I can’t bring myself to stop.

Bad recommendations or assumptions about law that you often hear?

People assume a lawyer is the jack of all trades. A good lawyer is excellent at two or three areas of law and is not afraid to admit it to clients/friends/family. You simply cannot be good at every area of law.

I am a commercial lawyer , so when friends and family always ask me for advice on things not related to corporate/commercial law,  I often find myself having to explain to them that you wouldn’t go to a neurosurgeon to treat a stomach ache.

The best or most worthwhile investment you have ever made? 

Investing in taking time off to celebrate ME. We don’t do that often enough. It becomes even harder when you’re a parent to just do something for yourself. I made a conscious decision to invest in travelling. I now make it a point to see a different country at least once a year. I’ve been fortunate enough to see so many places around the world. With each travel experience I come back home a different person. There is so much we can learn from different races, cultures and religions outside of our own.

Major goal for the next 5 years:

Start my legal consultancy business

Register an NGO to help abused women

Buy myself a house

Quote you live your life by:

I recently came across this quote by Mahatma Gandhi which I find so relevant in today’s world:

There are seven sins in the world:

Wealth without Work

Pleasure with Conscience

Knowledge without Character

Commerce without Morality

Science without Humanity

Worship without Sacrifice

Politics without Principle

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

LinkedIn:   Silindile Mbuli

 

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