The year 2017 was both the final year of my LLB studies and the year in which I experienced rejection. Throughout the year I had made sacrifices towards securing legal practical vocational training, previously referred to as articles of clerkship under the dispensation of the now repealed Attorneys Act 53 of 1979. I had been invited to countless interviews, which all turned out to be unsuccessful. My hopes had been raised as I was optimistic and looking forward to a new chapter of my life. However, the recurring theme for the year seemed to be rejection. My entire experience that year was incredibly painful and soul crushing. Rejection hurts, it is an unpleasant experience that leaves one doubting their abilities.
I graduated from my alma mater, the University of Witswatersrand, in the year 2017. I began the year 2018 unemployed, however, I was comforted by a scripture which lay deep in my heart, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 which reads: “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to plant, a time to pluck what is planted, a time to break down and a time to heal. A time to seek and a time to lose. A time to keep silent and a time to speak.”
I made a decision to allow rejection to teach me rather than to deter me. I chose to pay attention to the season I was in and allowed the Lord to guide me. As cliché as it may sound, the experience of rejection enlightened me and afforded me an opportunity to plan my career path. The experience revealed to me that I had no idea what I wanted to achieve with my degree and whether I wanted to take the route towards admission as an attorney or the route towards admission as an advocate. The experience further exposed that I was not aware of other areas of practice within the field of law.
The year 2018 was a season of seeking knowledge and planting seeds. I was intentional about every space wherein I found myself, the people I surrounded and the material I read. The series of good fortune began on 10 March 2018 when I discovered Sinako of #SinakoWeCan as I was fortunate enough to attend the #SinakoWeCan Constitutional Court Tour. This experience reignited my passion for the law. It was also the day I became aware of South African Black Women In Law (SABWiL) and the day I met Advocate Ayesha Tiry.
Advocate Ayesha Tiry is an exceptional person. As she spoke about her journey as an advocate during the #SinakoWeCan tour, I was truly inspired. I left the #SinakoWeCan tour with two most important tools that have played a pivotal role in the person I have become. The first one is the principle to believe in myself, which I continually apply for self-development, and the second, an opportunity to form part of the SABWiL Alumni fold.
The opportunity manifested in the form of SABWiL Shadowing. I applied for the April intake and had the privilege of shadowing Advocate Boitumelo Molojoa. I am grateful for the practical learning experience. It was an experience that helped me better understand the role of an advocate and the journey to becoming an advocate. As a result of that experience, I decided that further practical experience was necessary. I therefore applied for the six months Practical Legal Training (PLT) programme in which I was enrolled from July to December 2018. I owe my ability to effectively consult with clients, draft pleadings, work under pressure both as an individual and with a collective to those six months of PLT.
As my journey of seeking knowledge and planting seeds continued, whilst I was attending PLT, I learnt about the South African Chapter: International Association of Women Judges (SAC-IAWJ). I was unfortunately not eligible to take part in the programme as it is reserved for final year LLB students. However, after making representations, I was afforded an opportunity to shadow and be mentored by her Ladyship Justice Margaret Victor until January 2019. In February 2019, Justice Victor presented me with an opportunity to be the programme co-ordinator of the SAC-IAWJ– Sexual and Gender Based Violence under the schools programme.
I continued working closely with Justice Victor and with both her usher and clerk as I learnt about the legal profession from a Judge’s perspective. This experience equipped me with knowledge on different court processes from roll call to preparation for trial, the actual trial, the research work undertaken by Judges, the drafting of orders and ultimately the work that goes into making sure justice is served. My time with Justice Victor was cut short due to receiving a phone call from my current Principal who had interviewed me the previous year. I was asked whether I was available to serve my articles of clerkship. After possibly one of the most important conversations of my life with Justice Victor, I accepted the job offer and began my articles of clerkship in March 2019.
I cannot express enough gratitude to all those with whom I have crossed paths, those who allowed me to learn from them, enabling me to be where I am today. I am currently in my final year of articles of clerkship and I am preparing to write my remaining Board exams. My intention is to take the route towards admission as an attorney. My journey is not special. I only hope to encourage our members to accept and truly appreciate that the journey in the legal profession will not be an easy one. I want to encourage everyone to prepare themselves. We may find ourselves knocking on doors that might not be opened. Expect rejection but do not allow the rejection to define you. Be intentional, ask for assistance and show up. Excel whenever you are afforded the opportunity.
I resonate with the words in the book of 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of self-discipline”. Let us discipline ourselves and not be afraid. Let us know that we are powerful. We should do what we love with love and we will succeed.
We urge our members to observe the rules that are in place to prevent the surge of Covid-19. Ubuntu.
SABWiL Alumni-Inaugural NEC Alumna