I was recently asked what I really enjoy about my role as an HR practitioner. I had to reflect on this for a while. One of the things I really enjoy is graduate recruitment. Over the years I have had the opportunity and privilege to engage with very dynamic young individuals. Having worked with top students in the arena of excellence, there are a few things that I have gleaned from these top achievers. Although from different backgrounds, universities and cultures, there are certain things that I have seen in them all that I believe distinguished them from their counterparts.
I believe that lawyers are inherently bad managers. A large cause of this weakness is the journey to become a qualified lawyer and the practice of law itself. Studying law is a solitary affair. Law schools have recognised this flaw and now encourage group learning and assignments. These activities seldom mirror the working world.
In the last 150 years, women in civilised countries (and I do count South Africa amongst those for this topic!) have had a complete change of opportunity offered to us. But along with the vote, and the right to work, and that un-met right to equal pay, we've been fed a myth. We've been told that we can have it all. And to women entering the legal profession, I want to offer my opinion that – certainly in our profession – this is not possible.
Anne-Marie Slaughter's new book "Unfinished Business" (One World Publications; 2015) is essential reading for law firm leaders and their human resources teams. The book has already been long listed for the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award 2015, and I believe it could be the catalyst for a different discussion on true equality for men and women in the workplace, as well as providing a way forward for those who want to have fulfilling family lives and successful careers.
University of Cape Town
Talia Ben-David graduated magna cum laude.
She says, "I have always known that I wanted to be a lawyer, but I have never really been able to answer exactly why, especially since nobody else in my family is a lawyer. When I was much younger, the desire to do law may have been inspired by the image painted of lawyers by John Grisham novels and Hollywood. But later, I realised that I was genuinely interested in the justice system, and especially South African law, given that our Constitution is still relatively young. When I began studying law, I knew I would always be passionate about it."
Jan Adriaan Botha graduated cum laude.
Botha did an undergraduate degree in BComm (Law) with Monetary Economics as his major. He comments, "If I had approached this degree in the same manner as the LLB, I would have enjoyed university considerably more."
Yasmine Allen graduated cum laude.
Allen says that her decision to study law was a mix of factors. "My grandmother was convinced, from the time that I was very young, that I would one day become a lawyer, and her conviction played a role in my decision to study law.
Rachael Chasakara graduated cum laude
She says of her decision to study an LLB, "I do not credit my decision to study law to anything specific, but the movie 'Legally Blonde' played a big role in making this decision. The way 'Elle Woods' was portrayed made me think at the time that law is very interesting (debatable I know), and one day that would be me." And this proved correct, Chasakara says, "I would do law over and over again. I can't imagine myself enjoying any other degree as much as I enjoyed studying law."
"I am an international student from Zambia," says Abigail Beenzu. "I completed my LLB last year. I am currently studying a Masters' degree in Labour Law. I have no other degrees prior to my LLB. However, I did complete a Cambridge International Diploma in Information and Communications."
Jacques Brits graduated cum laude.
"In the very beginning the respect and status of such an honourable profession drew me to the law, says Brits of his decision to do an LLB. "Furthermore the law, as an ever-changing profession interested me. It confirmed that a lifetime of new information and knowledge would be necessary, ensuring that I improve myself on a daily basis."
Kelsey Jayes graduated cum laude.
Jayes says, "My University experience was not unlike that of many law students and stress was part of my daily struggle. I pushed myself harder than I thought was possible, had many breakdowns because of it, and lost a few friends along the way. However, given the outcome of such hard work, I can safely say that I wouldn't change a thing and, having been a Candidate Attorney for almost four months now, I am so happy I chose law as a career path."
Kelly Dixon graduated with distinction.
She says, "What drove me to study law was its problem-solving nature, as well as the fact that we all interact with the law on a daily basis. I enjoy learning about my rights and obligations and how to help others solve problems using the law."