Khumo Thage, a candidate attorney at Morare Thobejane Inc Attorneys, South Africa, was recently featured on our “Lawyer of the Week” series. He shares his experience on studying law while nursing varied interests in non-legal areas. He also addressed the “myth” of the influx of young lawyers into corporate law practice. Full chat below!
Did you always set out to study law?
It was never my dream to be a lawyer when I was younger. I actually made that decision in my final year of High School. For most of my life my dream was to be a soldier and do a few years of national service before venturing into private consulting (I am still not sure what I meant by Private consulting but it sure sounded cooler than the traditional Doctor, Engineer or worse Lawyer cliché career option in middle class society everywhere).
When applying for University my first choice was Geography, and Law was my second option. To my surprise, the University of Pretoria accepted my application to study law.
I attended a function at the University of Pretoria’s Law Faculty while in the final year of High School and I enjoyed the atmosphere there. That was really why I made the decision to Study Law.
From the perspective of a young lawyer, what does the practice of Law feel like in South Africa?
Practicing Law in South Africa is very interesting as it gives direct insight into everything that is right and wrong with our society. The South African Legal System is admired across the world due to its approach to transformative Constitutionalism but I think that a lot needs to be done by legal practitioners particularly when using the rule of law as a means to challenge Government encroaching into private affairs. Legal Practitioners in South Africa are largely conservative and seldom use their position to challenge government authority.
Kindly share with us your experience so far as a candidate attorneys Morare Thobejane Inc. Attorneys.
In the time period that I have spent here at Morare Thobejane Incorporated Attorneys I have seen the firm grow and reformulate itself in order to suit the changes in the operational landscape. The business of Law is tough and requires a flexible approach to navigating the changes ever so present in our legislative terrain.
You were the research assistant at the Center for Human Right back at the University of Pretoria. Tell us more about the activities of the organization and your role as well.
My activities included writing, assisting in event coordination and editing of the centres’ publications. The Highlight of my time at the centre included event coordaining various moot court competitions, writing on the O.R Tambo Memorial Lecture by Justice Digkang Moseneke and helping with research for the Sexual and Reproductive Rights program.
What other extra-curricular activities were you involved in back in school?
In High School, I was involved in the boy scouts Movement (I was a patrol Leader in the 36th Sinoville Scout Troop in Pretoria North). I was also active in sports including cross country, Rugby and canoeing. In University I was a member of the Law House Student society. I was also the head of the Legal Shebeen Student Think tank for 2 years.
What are your specific practice area?
Public Private Partnerships
Corporate and Commercial
Property Law and conveyancing
(I have done one criminal law matter but I would not say that it is my field of specialization). I have to say that the Public Private Partnerships division is my favourite. The state does not have all the resources and the private sector does not necessarily have the capacity to carry out all policy objectives. Cooperation between the State and private entities is critical in the achievement of any national project.
What are the dynamic skills required for choosing a career in such area(s)?
The bulk of being a lawyer entails a lot of reading and writing. Beyond that I think it is important to have inter-personal skills such as communication, teamwork, leadership and listening. I am also realizing that attention to detail is also vital when drafting commercial contracts.
Several LLB graduates end up in the corporate sector, in a bid to avoid core litigation. Fact or myth?
I was having lunch with a couple of my friends in Johannesburg a few weeks ago. I realized that the dream of many young legal practitioners is to go into ‘corporate’. So this is definitely not a myth. The idea is that our peers who work in Investment banks make more money for equal to less work.
Apart from the Law, what other areas interest you?
This is one of my favourite questions. Reason being albeit I am a lawyer by profession, there is more to an individual than their current occupation. Areas of interest outside law that interest me include Economic Geography, Environmental Sciences, Financial markets, Construction and infrastructure. Most importantly, I am fascinated by trends in urbanization. The construction of cities is going to be one of the most important human endeavours over the next few decades as the world is becoming younger, richer and more urbanized.
What’s your hope for South Africa and Africa in general?
As a starting point, I should state that I am an Afro-optimist. Albeit there are problems that exist on the African landscape, I see more opportunities and untapped potential than crisis. Africa in general is my source of hope. The resilience and persistency of our people in the face of adversity is truly inspirational. Of-course hope and inspiration alone are not enough to fix the challenges that exist on our operational landscape. Policy certainty and creating sustainable business eco-systems are of vital importance in overcoming our challenges. I also am adamant that Africa needs less foreign aid and more intra-continental trade. Trade is the most effective means of alleviating poverty in Africa.
Finally, security concerns that exist on the African terrain should also be addressed decisively. South Africa is dealing with waves of armed robberies, cash in transit heists, political attacks, gang related violence and xenophobic mobs terrorising the streets of our cities. There is a need to neutralize these threats as they undermine the security of the state and have put a dent on public faith in the police.
The are various other security concerns on the continent such as extremist terrorism, civil wars and forms of ethnic conflict crop up from time to time. By prioritising trade and security, I have a great deal of hope for Africa.
Any final words?
1) Africa is ready for business
2) M.I Abaga > Vecktor.