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

 

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

Tell Us…

Your qualifications and achievements:

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

Hogan Lovells Associate Achiever Award Recipient.

Mail and Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans.

African Legal Awards Attorney of the Year Finalist 2017.

Standard Bank Rising Star Award Finalist 2017.

   Your practice areas:

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

A major move in the last 5 years:

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

Something you wish you could change about legal practice:

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

What apps do you use to increase productivity:

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

How do you network:

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

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

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

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

Describe your Werk style:

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

 

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

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

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

If not law, what would you be doing:

Medicine.

 

Bad recommendations or assumptions about law that you often hear:

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

The best or most worthwhile investment you have ever made:

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

Major goal for the next 5 years:

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

 

Quote you live your life by:

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

How can people get in touch with you:

LinkedIn: Megan Nicholas

Social media handles: megznic

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

1) Your qualifications:

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

2) Your practice areas:

Business law including labour, commercial, corporate etc.

3) A major move in the last 5 years:

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

 

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

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

5) How do you network:

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

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

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

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

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

8) A physical or spiritual practice you have adopted:

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

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

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

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

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

11) Major goal for the next 5 years:

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

12)  Quote you live your life by:

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

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

LinkedIn: Sylvie Lukengu Mihigo

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

This week, we are chatting to Meron Tadesse a Tax and Business attorney based in Atlanta, Georgia! She has such great style and you need to follow her on her Instagram @tadesselaw to get some work inspo!

Tell Us:

Your Qualifications:   

I have a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting and Finance from the Georgia State University, as well as a Joint Degree from the John Marshall Law School in Atlanta.

Your Practice Areas:

My focus is on business and tax law.

The business side is transactional and includes formation of a business, contract drafting, general counsel duties, etc. I am also currently in the process of expanding it into trademark and copyright.

The tax side is litigation and includes representing individuals and business in front of the Internal Revenue Services (“IRS”) . Most people are unaware of this area of law so I just tell them to give me a call whenever they receive a letter from the IRS.

A major move in the last 5 years:
Starting my own law firm, Tadesse Law LLC., was my last major move and has completely changed my life. No one knows what it takes to be a business owner until you actual start operating a business. The road has definitely had some twists and turns but I love it.

Why you chose to study law:  

I chose law because I believe that knowledge is power. Law is a language in itself and changes the way you think. I wanted to have that language coupled with my business background in order to be a successful business owner in whatever realm I chose.

Something you wish you could change about legal practice:  
One would be diversity; when going to tax law related events, there are a lot of times that I am the only minority in the room.

Another thing is accessibility; generally there are legal services provided to the poor and the wealthy. However people who fall in the middle have limited access. This is the main reason why my firm provides reasonable rates on a sliding scale as well as payment plans. I believe that everyone should have access to legal services no matter what income level.

How do you network:  

Lately, I have been going to business functions throughout the city.

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

I love Nars tinted moisturizer. It looks like foundation when you put it on and is easy to use. I love Banana powder to set whatever makeup I have on.  My staple closet item changes constantly as I like to constantly change my style.

But right now, I love a ripped mom jean and we will be posting a look with how I style them really soon on our @tadesslaw Instagram!

Describe your Werk style: 

Non-boring! I like color and prints. I love a classic look with a random pop of color or a unique design.

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

As a new lawyer and business owner you will make mistakes.

One time I took a case that I should not have taken. It was way over my skill set. Once I realized the magnitude of the case, I had a nightmare. I immediately contacted one of my many mentors the next morning and explained the situation.  As a result he was able to guide me through referring out the case. Then once I was able to refer out the case properly, I could breathe again.I learned the importance of properly vetting a client because of this incident.

If not law, what would you be doing: 

I would be doing something in designing whether it is fashion design or interior design. I also love photography so maybe a Creative Director of some sorts.

Bad recommendations or assumptions about law that you often hear:

That lawyers are liars.

I am sure some are, but I just think that the average person does not know how to properly ask a lawyer questions.

The best or most worthwhile investment you have ever made: 

Travelling! I value experiences and love exploring new cultures and places. I think my travel experiences have been and will continue to be invaluable.

Major goal for the next 5 years:

 

My forever goal is to be happy which I consider mind, body, and soul alignment.

 

My business goal would be to continue to build my law firm, showcase my business clients, help people defend themselves against the IRS, and continue my pro bono work.

My completely random goals are to become a published author, do a voiceover for a cartoon, and try foot modeling.

How can people say hi to you:

All handles are @tadesselaw and you can always check out the website at www.tadesselaw.com

This week we chat with Belinda Kintu, a banking and finance lawyer who is also a fashion blogger- check out her blog The Black Diamond Series.

 

Tell Us…

Your qualifications: BCom Law LLB from the University of Pretoria.

Your practice areas: Banking and Finance specializing in Project and Resource Financing.

The reaction when people find out you are a lawyer:  “So if I get arrested for drunken driving I should call you?” the latest one is “You must have an incredible ability to retain knowledge.”

 A major move in the last 5 years: Leaving practice to go in-house at an investment bank.

Why you chose to study law: It looked cool on TV!

Something you wish you could change about legal practice: The pressure placed on women to choose either their career or families. When a woman decides to have a family the presumption is that her practice will die, if she chooses not to have a family she is condemned. There needs to be more compassion in the industry for whatever choices a woman makes.

The value of the largest transaction you worked on: R6 Billion coal based energy project

How do you network: At industry events like the Legal Marketing Association conferences as well as the energy related events

 A beauty staple and closet item you can’t live without: A brow pencil… I am nothing without my eyebrows. I also swear by a great pair of heels and Converse All Stars.

Describe your Werk style: My style is very feminine and flirty, I love bold prints and I live for cut outs and the rest of the time I live in yoga pants.

 When stressed or overwhelmed, what do you do to refocus: I practice yoga and if I can’t get to a yoga class I step away from the situation by taking a quick five minute walk to clear my thoughts.

 A time you made a mistake at work and how you bounced back: On one of my transactions I made a call around the appointment of an external resource based on our internal policy guidelines and this rubbed my business stakeholders up the wrong way as they felt excluded in the process. I stuck to my guns and defended my decision for as long as I could before I was dragged before my business stakeholders and forced to apologize to them. From that I learned that in as much as its important to hold your ground its also critical to look at the bigger picture in order facilitate rather than frustrate the process/transaction.

 A physical or spiritual practice you have adopted: Morning meditations, affirmations and prayer. I also try to drink hot water with lemon first thing in the morning to kickstart my metabolism.

 If not law, what would you be doing: Something creative like interior design or magazine editing.

Bad recommendations or assumptions about law that you often hear: People assume lawyers know every single area of law and ask me all sorts of questions about divorce law and criminal law.

 

The best or most worthwhile investment you have ever made: Buying my very first home two years ago

Major goal for the next 5 years: To be considered an industry leader in which ever sphere I will be in then.

You can say hi to Belinda on Instagram @ladybellediamant | LinkedIn: Belinda Kintu