Meet this week’s WCW, Zamaswazi Mokobi. Having worked with Zama in my previous life I can attest that her calm demeanour and quiet grace have a way of making the most chaotic situations completely manageable. Zama studied law at Rhodes University in South Africa and has been practicing law since 2013. She is a corporate lawyer and currently specializes in mergers and acquisitions at Bowmans in South Africa. Zama is an MBA Graduate at Wits Business School and has recently entered Mrs South Africa 2020 Competition.

 

1. Fun Fact about your work/ The best part of your job?

The best part about my job is that it gives me an opportunity to be part of the solution-finding process when companies and individuals are faced with complex legal issues. As a corporate lawyer, I love that this process involves my having to understand the business and commercial interests of my clients.

 

2. Something you wish you could change about the legal industry?

Accessibility! Legal services tend to be inaccessible to most South Africans due to the costs associated with getting legal assistance.

 

3. Tell us about a lawyer with a career that you admire and aspire towards? (Who is your Werk crush)

I love seeing women in law flourishing! The legal industry in South Africa is still so white male-dominated that as women in this industry we all ought to celebrate each other as we climb up the ladder, evolve and flourish in this industry. This for me is even more important when a black woman flourishes because representation is everything.

4. What role has mentorship played in your legal career, if any?

Mentorship has played an important role in my legal career whenever it has resulted from a relationship that developed naturally / organically with a mentor. I have had two mentors, each at different parts of my career, who I am still friends with and each of whom has at those points of my career contributed meaningfully to my growth by being my eyes and ears; offering different perspectives and sound advice; keeping me accountable, reminding me to think about what is important or to just step back and reassess things. Most importantly, through mentorship, I have benefited from the wisdom and experience of my mentors. It is invaluable to be guided by someone who has already gone through the same or a similar journey and is able to point out the errors that they made so that you do not have to experience them or to point out more efficient ways of achieving your goals. And even where they had not gone through a similar journey, mentorship also opened up an additional network for me to leverage from and has been an additional ear on the ground for any opportunities pertaining to my goals.

 

5. Describe your Werk style and do you have a “Go-To” beauty or grooming staple? (work fashion style)

Between Monday and Thursday, I am in my version of corporate wear (which is not rigidly formal but instead focuses on comfort, fit and looking professional). On these days you will always find me in heels and simple makeup. Casual Fridays are a real thing for me; the trick is always to keep it “smart casual” and not casual, so heels tend to be a staple for me.

 

6. A physical or spiritual practice you have adopted in the last 5 years (What self-care steps do you currently take?) (e.g. meditation, yoga, journal, eat clean, etc.)

I definitely spend more time in prayer, I work out at least 4 days a week, try to prioritize reading at least one book a month (audible has been instrumental in making this a reality!) drink lots of water and am mindful of what I eat. I also really enjoy solo dates and try to have them as often as possible to just listen to my thoughts and do some introspection.

 

7. The best or most worthwhile investment you have made in the last 5 years? (personal or professional life, e.g. marriage, children, studies, etc whatever you are proud of)

Marrying my best friend is the best decision I’ve made in the last few years and studying towards an MBA has been a really eye-opening value add to my growth and such a financial stretch (I cannot wait until we start to see our ROI!).

          • The role of a lawyer is listen and understand legal problems; help you to understand the law and how it applies to you and your problem, and provide sound legal advice
          • The reaction when people find out you are a lawyer For some strange reason, people then assume I have so much money!
          • In your quietest moments, what are you most grateful for… God, my husband, family (this includes my friends)
          • Expectation V Reality of a career in law since you left law school? Very little is as I expected it to be!
          • Where and how can people find you online or even offline? I am most active on Instagram (@zama_mok), you can also vote for Zama for the Mrs South Africa competition. Simply click in the link here and like Zama’s picture as well as the Mrs South Africa page (you have to like both in order for your vote to be counted.

Anna Radke is an attorney in the United States (admitted in the state of New York) assisting with issues related to business, social media, intellectual property, employment and immigration law. She advises clients primarily from the fashion, beauty, art, media, and tech industries.

 

She gained experience while at The Fashion Law Group (now Brand Counsel), Thomson Reuters, Dentons Poland, Coach (now Tapestry), The Legal Aid Society, Medenica Law, and Schlam Stone & Dolan. Anna  graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in fashion merchandising management (2014), Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law with a Juris Doctor degree (2017), and is currently pursuing her LLM degree in Law, Technology and Entrepreneurship at Cornell Tech (expected in May 2020).

 

1.What Was Your Motivation In Returning To School?

My goal has been to become a better lawyer. The LLM program at Cornell Tech offers a unique multidisciplinary experience in a growing field of law – technology transactions. It has prepared me to better serve my clients, as I have learned how to code, work in multicultural teams from various backgrounds, and generally expand my legal knowledge.

 

2.The best part of her job:

I get to speak at various industry events all over the world. I love meeting new people.

3. Change she wants to see in the legal industry:

I wish more lawyers were open to innovative approaches. Less bias, more diversity. It’s changing, though.

4. What’s the most unique thing have you learned in school?

I learned how to code.

5. The role of mentorship in her career:

I have had mentors who helped me choose the right path, and believed in me. They have played significant roles in my life.
6. Describe your Werk style and do you have a “Go-To” beauty or grooming staple? (work fashion style)
I like to start work early in the morning. I know how to manage my time, but I am (sometimes too) meticulous, which annoys my colleagues. As far as my work fashion style is concerned, I am a sneaker girl so I wear them as much as I can (whenever appropriate).
7. What she does for self care:
I drink lots of water, and I started practicing yoga last fall thanks to my friend Saho. It really helps!
8. The most worthwhile investment in the last 5 years:
Building my self-confidence. Step by step. It is a process.
9. Advice for someone thinking of returning to school:
It’s helpful, but do it only if you have a goal. Don’t do it because you don’t know what to do.
  • The role of a lawyer is to find solutions.
  • The reaction when people find out you are a lawyer That’s impressive!/That’s so boring!
  • In your quietest moments what are you most grateful for  my family.
  • Expectation V Reality of a career in law since you left law school I found there are too many lawyers!
  • Where and how can people find you online or even offline: Connect with me on my Instagram @aniaradke.

I met Juan at the Cornell Entrepreneurship conference in Manhattan last year.  We sat at the same table for lunch and, since then he has been a great sounding board for ideas regarding products to develop for the legal industry.

 

Juan is a full time live music fan (wide spectrum from indie rock to the opera) who is also passionate about his work helping startup, tech and other growth companies and the people who invest in them (VCs/growth equity). He graduated from Cornell Law in 2011 and is currently Counsel in the Tech Group at Lowenstein Sandler LLP.

 

 1) The best part of his job:

“I love all my clients (alright, most of them) but my favourite part of my job is when you start working with a founder early on and then help them and their company grow from basically just an idea to a fully realised complex organisation, and then ideally to a good exit event. I also work with a lot of investors and sometimes you can get a similar perspective from the investor side, which can be very interesting as well.”

2) Change he wants to see in the legal industry:

Two of the big issues in the legal industry that have resonated with me in the last decade are diversity and work/life balance. The good news is that a lot of work has been done in the last few years in those two areas but we still have a ways to go.

3) The lawyers he admires (his Werk crush):

My current Werk crush are the partners in my group at Lowenstein.

4) The role of mentorship in her career:

Very important, and I would be surprised if any senior associate, counsel or partner responded that it was not. Nowadays, many of the big firms have formal mentorship programs and that was the case when I started at Goodwin Proctor in Boston back in 2011. I was lucky enough that I really enjoyed the type of work that my mentors were doing and that is really how I got started in the startup world. Eventually, I developed mentorship relationships that grew more organically and I found those to be incredibly helpful over the years.

5) Describe your Werk style and do you have a “Go-To” beauty or grooming staple? (work fashion style)

 

 

 

 

 

I have to admit I do not have a well developed Werk style. Most days I put on some jeans or slacks with a button down.

 

6) What he does for self care:

I have done a lot of work these past few years on my sleep, specifically keeping a consistent sleeping schedule. I used to let work dictate my sleeping schedule but do not think that is sustainable in the long term.

**Full disclosure: I do not have kids, which I hear can complicate sleep-related matters.

 

7) The most worthwhile investment in the last 5 years:

I changed jobs twice in quick succession and, collectively, that is probably the best professional decisions I have ever made. Both places I left were great but, along with the type of work that I love, I was also doing a lot of work that I did not find particularly interesting or fulfilling.

 

  • The role of a lawyer is To listen. To advice. In that order.
  • The reaction when people find out you are a lawyer  They are not surprised.
  • In your quietest moments what are you most grateful for  How fortunate I have been.
  • Expectation V Reality of a career in law since you left law school Managing people gets more and more important.
  • Where and how can people find you online or even offline:  LinkedIn (Juan B Soto). I love meeting people offline that are involved with/interested in the startup world,  music or cinema.

*Featured image taken from Lowenstein Sandler homepage which owns the full copyright. 

To know Naomi Thompson, is to know what ambition and passion look like. From the minute you meet her in real-time, her energy is contagious and her vision for the future of law in Africa will blow your mind. She has been instrumental to both Tiyani and I’s higher education journeys so it goes without saying that she has been our WCW for quite a while.

 

Naomi holds an LLB from the University of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa as well as an MBA from Hult International Business School from the United States. She started her career as a corporate in-house legal counsel and worked for a Pan African investment company. After ten years as a corporate in-house lawyer, she was selected by the Chief Operating Officer (COO) to become his Chief of Staff. This position exposed her to the international business, with a focus on strategy implementation and business operations and provided her the opportunity to manage multiple large projects simultaneously.

Upon completing her MBA, Naomi joined Exigent, a global alternative services provider. In her current role, Vice President – Legal Solutions, she focuses on legal innovation; transforming the way legal services are offered by combining technology and data to deliver answers that impact every aspect of business performance.

 

1) The best part of her job:

The driving force behind my work is grounded in my determination to makes a difference and living a life of impact. I am driven by my purpose, a strong belief in leading by example and motivating others. Professionally, I am driven to be on the cutting edge of legal innovation. With Exigent’s mission to change the way legal services are provided with innovation and creativity as part of Exigent’s DNA, we translate this into finding solutions to challenges for our clients. Being part of such a dynamic global legal team always keeps me engaged. I am constantly driven to stay abreast of developments in the fourth industrial revolution and its impact on legal delivery. Legal technology is evolving, understanding the effect of artificial intelligence, data analytics, and automation to translate value to my clients and the legal profession is part of what motivates me.

My current role allows me to have a larger impact, not only in our organisation, but it also allows me to drive change in the legal industry. Combining both my legal and business experience as well as my master’s degree I can bring a fresh perspective to the challenges faced by the African legal industry. I am passionate about the digital transformation of the legal profession and I am a champion for innovation, process improvement, and technology.

 

2) Change she wants to see in the legal industry:

I want to change access to opportunities for women and in particular women of colour as this remains a barrier for women in South Africa. In so many ways the challenges faced by women in the legal industry are not very different from that of women in South Africa. There is a multitude of obstacles that their male counterparts probably don’t even consider. The lack of representation of women in top leadership positions is still one of the biggest challenges, with women of colour being even less represented. The slow pace of transformation and gender inequality with a lack of diversity is a tradition that persists and still thrives in the legal industry. The gender pay gap is also a huge challenge that females face. The profession is extremely rigid, with grueling working hours, women carry the additional role of family responsibility, perceived as career limiting. When a woman becomes a mother, in what is a very patriarchal system, promotion and remuneration are impacted as the women are away from practice due to having kids or tending to their children. The challenges facing women in the legal profession are not limited to lack of transformation and unequal pay but gender-biased in many of the industry bodies are male-dominated.

Women face unique challenges in accessing the law and by implication, justice which is often unattainable. Access to legal representation is not affordable due to several factors, including the high cost associated with legal services, lack of diversity in representation, the uneven geographical distribution of lawyers, little information about the availability of legal services, lawyers can be perceived as intimidating, and the legal profession traditionally being male-dominated.

 

3) The lawyer she admires (her Werk crush):

Justice Leona Theron a judge on the Constitutional Court of South Africa is a woman that I truly admire and look up to, not only because of her achievement but her humility and kindness struck me when I first met her. Leona was first appointed to the bench in 1999 at the age of 32, becoming the first black woman judge in Kwa Zulu Natal High Court the country’s youngest judge at the time. She was the first South African to receive the Commonwealth Foundation Fellowship award and won the Department of Justice’s Woman Achiever of the Year award in 2000.

Leona represents a woman who shattered all glass ceilings throughout her career – always leading the way for those who came after her, and once again her representation on the highest court of the land is changing some inherent bias that may exist in an all-male bench. Leona’s commitment to women’s rights and equality is demonstrated in her judgments. Her personal experience with inequality serves as the driving force that motivated her to fight for equal rights for all.

Much like my journey she was no stranger to adversity, growing up without financial opportunities she had three part-time jobs to finance her legal studies. Leona’s determination, drive and advocacy for women and being a true leader in our industry are only a handful of reasons I aspire to make a difference and live a life of impact like she does.

 

 

4) The role of mentorship in her career:

As a young lawyer and during my years as legal counsel I did not have a mentor, I did not have the benefit of someone guiding me and helping me navigate the challenges faced by young lawyers. Corporate was vastly different from the law firm environment and the adjustment was brutal. However, when I switched careers I was blessed to have leaders who made it their responsibility to mentor me. This was a privilege I do not take lightly, it resulted in my career taking off and finding the right fit for me. I now have a few mentors whose wisdom I treasure. Due to my lack of mentors earlier in my career, I make it my mission to mentor young women, not only in law but generally across the business. I use my story to motivate others to follow their dream, to fight for what they believe in to achieve their goals.

 

5) Describe your Werk style and do you have a “Go-To” beauty or grooming staple? (work fashion style)

My work style is classic – love a well-cut suit (when I can actually fit into all my suits) always paired with a beautiful heel, yes I love shoes – especially beautiful stilettos.

Grooming staple – Nails I have to have my bi-weekly nail appointment. I meet a lot of clients and speak with my hands, it’s important for me to be well-groomed and have pretty nails.

6) What she does for self care:

I meditate daily, this started during high-stress periods when I was unable to fall asleep, it has now become a way life. I do guided meditations and it varies daily, often it’s a gratitude meditation for the blessings I have in life.

Affirmations are also part of my daily routine, this is a great way to achieve all my goals and help me remain healthy.

7) The most worthwhile investment in the last 5 years:

The best investment was the investment I made in myself and my future when I chose to do an international MBA. I was determined to ensure I work toward that dream and make it a reality. I took the risk and gave up the Chief of Staff position at a prestigious investment company in pursuit of that dream. Like most candidates applying from the continent, unfavourable exchange rates, the cost of an international program and my personal circumstances were all challenges I had to overcome to turn that into a reality. I completed a Hult International Business School Global One-Year MBA, one of the most prestigious international business schools, allowed me to reach my dreams of studying with some of the world’s most influential thinkers and innovators. The wealth of diversity through cultural and practical experiences with experiential teaching techniques provided me the platform to expand my learning. I had the opportunity to build strong relationships and cultivate a global network with diverse class interactions and debates – challenging my perceptions and world views.

        • The role of a lawyer is to make the law more accessible to ordinary people and serving as a trusted advisor.
        • The reaction when people find out you are a lawyer It varies – men in a social setting are often intimidated, followed by the general jokes about lawyers. Others tend to box me as one dimensional and only focused on going to court or giving legal advice.
        • In your quietest moments what are you most grateful for My parents and their health in general – my parents are in their 80’s and live with me – I am grateful to have beautiful memories I am creating with them
        • Expectation V Reality of a career in law since you left law school? Law school can create the perception that there’s a direct career path. In reality, careers are like clay that you mold with experience. The important thing is to be open minded and flexible while driving ahead. I started as a litigator working on patent and technology contract cases. Now a lot of my work focuses on privacy.
        • Where and how can people find you online or even offline? LinkedIn (Naomi Thompson) And/Or Instagram @thompson_n77

 

Sunni Yuen is the appropriate person to kick off the new season of WCW! She was the last in person lecturer that came to our Technology Transactions class before we moved online in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. She is Senior Product Counsel at Google and she has worked on multiple projects within Google over 8 years she been there.

 

 

1) The best part of her job:

It’s really gratifying seeing the launch of a product that I’ve helped shape from a legal POV from day one. Also, the Engineers and Product Managers I work with are always game to debate the merits of fair use or platform liability over happy hour.

2) Change she wants to see in the legal industry:

“Diversity is oh so important. We’re talking about it more. I’d like to see more action and that requires a hard look at the blindspots in recruiting and professional development. I manage a work re-entry program at Google for talented lawyers who for extenuating circumstances have had to take time away from work and are thus, not on the radar when positions open.”

3) The lawyer she admires (her Werk crush):

There’s so many! I admire lawyers who pair their analytical skills with empathy in everyday matters.

4) The role of mentorship in her career:

Mentorship is very important, though honestly, I’ve grown so much from informal mentors. If you take the attitude that you can learn something from anyone with whom you form a natural connection and you keep those relationships, that’s your mentor network right there.

5) Describe your Werk style and do you have a “Go-To” beauty or grooming staple? (work fashion style)

My beauty routine consists of sleep at night and a good moisturizer with SPF by day.

                                                      I work at Google so jeans are a staple.

 

6) What she does for self care:

I’ve taken up lindy hop dancing. It’s a fantastic diverse community where everyone shares a love for classic big band tunes and history. It’s also a good workout and guarantees a break from the screen.

7) The most worthwhile investment in the last 5 years:

I’ve written two young adult novels that have nothing to do with law. A lot of the writing happens on the weekend or at mini-residencies out in the woods or on a mountain, in the company of birds. I also use a 1963 typewriter which will outlast all my computers.

 

  1. The role of a lawyer is to advise on risk.
  2. The reaction when people find out you are a lawyer It varies! Once, someone said “you’re the enemy.” Another said “at least you’re not a dentist.” Most are more positive or neutral.
  3. In your quietest moments what are you most grateful for my family and friends. Also, nature. It’s an impressive planet.
  4. Expectation V Reality of a career in law since you left law school? Law school can create the perception that there’s a direct career path. In reality, careers are like clay that you mold with experience. The important thing is to be open minded and flexible while driving ahead. I started as a litigator working on patent and technology contract cases. Now a lot of my work focuses on privacy.
  5. Where and how can people find you online or even offline? LinkedIn and occasionally, Twitter.

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:
Travelling.

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?
Instagram-@ldrams

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 in 2017 as part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship.

We all have our views on crime, which are influenced by media and personal experience, so 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/