In a ruling handed down in January, Kansai Plascon (Pty) Ltd successfully opposed Duram (Pty) Ltd's registration of the trade mark DTM in respect of paint, coatings and the like. As a result of current backlogs at the registry, this opposition, along with other contested matters, was referred to the Pretoria High Court by the Registrar of Trade Marks.
The Class of 2009 entered the market when the general feeling was more optimistic than it had been at the beginning of their final year at university. However, the world has still not completely recovered from the economic crisis of 2008 and, while things might not look quite as bleak internationally, in South Africa there is far less optimism about a bright economic future than there has been in the past. This can, at least in part, be ascribed to to Eskom's abysmal failure to keep the lights burning resulting in an anticipated 2% growth this year, way off the required mark to provide jobs and stability. It is not too far off the mark to add foreign investor concerns about South African legislation and the impact this will have on them in the long term.
"The problem with portraying yourself as a leader in a professional service firm is that your most valuable colleagues are likely to resent being cast as your followers." – Laura Empson: Professor in the Management of Professional Service Firms at Cass Business School.
Writing about your past is always difficult. In recalling past memories it seems as if we, as human beings, are always predisposed to romanticise experiences, neglecting the hardships. Looking back at my experience at my old law firm, I fondly remember drafting into the early hours of the morning knowing that a few offices away my friends and colleagues were diligently doing the same. After a while, the deadlines became addictive, the pressure a welcomed break from every-day life (which seemed pedestrian in comparison). The work becomes engaging, prestigious and demanding. This is the life of a corporate attorney. This is the life chosen by many lawyers. And, this is the life which I traded-in for another.
Lawyer recruitment, like probably too many other professions, has been bent out of shape by the language and practices of the recruitment industry. We have allowed the recruitment consultancies to dictate the rules of the game. Conformity replaces imagination and sameness is safe. It is as if "relevant sector experience" was a holy grail, when in reality it should be no more than a disposable plastic cup. We have allowed the recruiters' collective lack of imagination to dictate how we advertise for and head-hunt talent. In effect we have outsourced our future success and only secured the equivalent of an expensive lottery ticket with mostly average prizes.
In countless conversations with law firm partners, marketing leaders, and professional development directors over the past 18 months, I have found a shared commitment to providing lawyers with the tools they need to succeed, not just for the benefit of the firm, but for the individual progress of each person it employs. Many agree that the greatest challenge for a large percentage of those trying to grow a practice today is not a deficient strategy or the lack of a fully defined marketing plan; it is simply inaction. Based in part on suggestions from members of the legal community, I developed a cloud-based technology platform to help lawyers execute their business development activities while disproving the myth that rainmaking skills are innate. The aim is to combine empowerment with accountability to help overcome that complacency.
How often do you hear someone say, "We need a meeting to discuss this…"?
There is probably a smile (or a scowl!) on your face right now, since you've likely heard that expression many, many times. Consider this as well: Is discussion an activity or an outcome? It's an activity – which is why meetings are often so ineffective. When you're framing your meetings with an activity focus, all you get is more and more discussion. From a leadership perspective, successful meetings are focused on outcomes – and the majority of these meetings really have only three key outcomes:
Many attorneys consider leaving law firms for corporate roles, and often find the experience less than satisfying when moving away from the traditional law firm environment. Experience as a practising attorney can serve as a springboard to a host of career alternatives. This article covers a few roles found on our doorstep within the realm of Business Services in large law firms.
Calli Ferreira said she would send a brief catch up. "After graduation I was a teaching and research assistant in the Private Law department at the University of Cape Town until August 2010. I then attended Cornell University in the USA where I completed my LLM in 2011. I was a Law Clerk to Justice Sisi Khampepe at the Constitutional Court of South Africa from 2011 to 2012. I then served articles at Bowman Gilfillan in 2013 and 2014 and was admitted as an attorney earlier this year. I am currently employed as an Associate in the litigation department at Bowman Gilfillan in Cape Town."
Marieke Dahms says of her choice of study, "I studied LLB in order to engage in a career that will challenge, excite and enable me to grow each day; definitely something I have experienced in the years since graduation. In 2010 she attended and completed the School for Legal Practice in Bloemfontein and obtained an LLM-degree (cum laude) in Private Law at the University of the Free State in the same year.
Vicky Louise Borg-Jorgensen
Vicky Borg-Jorgensen says, "After I completed my LLB, I read for an LLM in commercial law at the University of Johannesburg, which I obtained cum laude and was awarded both the University of Johannesburg Faculty Medal as the top student who has completed a master's degree by course work and the Nedbank Limited Prize for the best results in the LLM Module: Banking Law." Borg-Jorgensen says she looks back fondly on her time at the University of Johannesburg "I thoroughly enjoyed my studies. I was encouraged to think critically, formulate meaningful opinions and engage in complex subject matters through extensive and meticulous research. My legal education has opened a world of opportunities for me."
Nielendran Chetty followed a passion when he decided to study law, "I served as a police officer for many years and studying law seemed like the next progressive step at the time. I wanted to make a difference in the justice system and this is what I am doing. I love the work I do and where I find myself today." Chetty opted to serve the state and applied to the National Prosecuting Authority where he is employed as a state prosecutor, "This was the best option for me given that I am passionate about prosecution. Criminal Law and Law of Evidence were my favourite subjects at university and I use the knowledge gained daily." He derives enormous pleasure from "winning a case where I know justice has truly been served."
Rize Claassen says that while the reasons that prompted her to study law are valid, "in all honestly it was only after two years of being admitted as an attorney that I truly began enjoying it." Having said that, had she been able looked into a crystal ball she would still have studied law although "I would have made some different decisions after completing my law degree." Claassen served articles with Norton Rose Fulbright. She is currently an associate at Maserumule Inc in the Employment Law practice. She says that practice is vastly different from the way she imagined. She adds, "But I cannot say in a bad way different."
Christine Janse van Rensburg (neé Coetzee)
Christine Janse van Rensburg says, "I wanted to study law for the only one reason – to become a conveyancer, which I have accomplished." She served articles with Meintjes Smit Inc for a year; having attended law school she did not need to serve two years. In 2012 she opened her own conveyancing practice. She comments on the reality of practise, "During my article years practise was a lot different from what I imagined it would be. Since I started my own practice and only attend to conveyancing matters, the reality of practice has become much the same as I thought it would be during my studies." Is she using those subjects she most enjoyed while at university? "Not at all. During my studies I enjoyed criminal law, it was very interesting especially the cases. Now I am doing exact the opposite but enjoy it and am satisfied with the decision I made."
Christopher McConnachie says, "I studied law because I thought that it could be used to do meaningful things in life. I haven't yet been disappointed." "I studied at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship from 2010 to 2014. I did the one-year Bachelor of Civil Law (Oxford's equivalent of the LLM) followed by a one-year research master's. The research bug bit, so I worked on the thesis for another two years to complete the doctorate. McConnachie arrived back from the UK at the end of 2014, "I have started pupillage this year with Steven Budlender in the Victoria Mxenge Group in Johannesburg. I mainly work on public law matters, including constitutional law, human rights, and administrative law."