My journey at an international law firm

I completed my LLB in 2012 and started my legal career at Eskom – Legal Department working as a legal clerk. In January 2014 I started my articles of clerkship at Hogan Lovells (South Africa).

During the period between completing my LLB and commencing my articles I was newly married and had just given birth to my wonderful son, so I started my articles a young wife and mom. This, I quickly realised, was anomalous as I was the only one in my clerkship year and one of the very few juniors with a family. This circumstance could have been a test of my resolve of whether I truly wanted to be an attorney. Fortunately, at that time I did not even consider any other option, and I worked hard and pushed myself as much as my colleagues did. 

My first rotation was in the pro bono department. Little did I know that this department would ultimately be my calling. The pro bono department was incredible. The meaning of litigation and civil procedure came to life. Being constantly busy with every type of matter possible meant that I had to learn fast and rely on the abilities and availability of my team members when necessary. Running with our own matters from the outset left very little room to indulge in any emotions of inadequacy; it was only when I was thrown into the deep end that I realised how fast I could swim. 

My next rotation was in the personal injury and insurance department. At that time, the department itself was transitioning from one speciality to another. Here, I was instructed by my director that I should run the department as if it were my own. I drafted everything for my director, hers was to check, correct, praise or rebuke and send me back to my desk to start all over again. This was my first billing department and I could finally share in my colleagues' anguish and joy over the infamous "month end". 

My last rotation was in the commercial department – mergers & acquisitions and TMT. It proved to be the most challenging rotation yet. I was stretched not only academically but also physically and spiritually. I went through an amalgam of stereotypical emotions that characterises us lawyers. Despite the many challenges – and yes, they were hectic – being in the commercial department confirmed and, in fact, enriched my own character greatly. My faith endured, as the Bible says, and I ultimately had the best learning experience of all; what I gained in commercial I still use in my current department and out of the office. I remained in commercial as an associate for another year before returning to the pro bono department where an opportunity had arisen. 

I am now an associate in the pro bono department and I have all my previous experience to thank, as this department, at this level, is quite demanding. One of the very valuable lessons I learnt from my previous director is the concept of business and business solutions, an elusive reality sometimes in the legal profession. My current director amplified this concept. 

My department is constantly developing and innovating to make access to justice a reality for our clients. The business skills I gained (over and above the litigation skills) help me to serve a new market of non-profit organisations and entrepreneurs that have "social entrepreneurship" as a key element of their objectives. These non-profit organisations and entrepreneurs also face the financial barrier that our traditional clients face, however, their sterling intentions and objects have the ability to impact our society in a way that can move our traditional clients from indigent to empowered. I certainly want to be a part of that. 

In my work I am guided specifically by these passages of scripture Luke 11:46 "Woe to you also lawyers! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers" and Luke 11:52 "Woe to you also lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge". 

I am excited about the prospects of the pro bono department at Hogan Lovells and the work we do. My aim is not only to comply with the Law Society's mandate but to internalise the rebuke in the scriptures mentioned and provide access to justice in a manner that is genuine, quantifiable, sustainable and meaningful to all the persons, institutions and organisations that we have the privilege of acting for. 


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