Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
THE dynamics of practising law in Bulawayo are slowly but surely shifting with the emergence of a new breed of female lawyers determined to change the face of the legal fraternity in the City of Kings.
Traditionally, men have been dominating the legal profession with many of them running most law firms in the city. A new crop of young and vibrant women is however, slowly taking over the reins.
Chronicle caught up with two young female lawyers in Bulawayo representing a new crop of women opening up their own law firms in the city.
Ms Nozabelo Matsediso Ndlovu and Ms Busisiwe Dube, the co-founders of a new local law firm, Ndlovu Dube and Associates are among women lawyers who have decided to break the tradition in the running of law firms.
Their law firm opened four months ago. Ndlovu Dube and Associates employs three people, a secretary, legal assistant and a messenger. The company draws its clients mainly from companies and individuals.
Ms Ndlovu and Ms Dube revealed that they were driven by a strong desire to be successful businesswomen and they are determined to leave an indelible footprint in the profession.
Ms Dube is a holder of a law degree from the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) and a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Science and Technology (Nust).
She obtained her first practising certificate in May 2011 and practised under five different law firms until they eventually established their own company four months ago.
Although she is an all-rounder, Ms Dube mainly specialises in civil cases, family law, property law and commercial law.
“The general perception is that men want to deal with other men hence the male dominance. Women therefore have to prove themselves that they are equally competent and can deliver,” said Ms Dube.
She said for one to be successful in the legal fraternity, the principles of honesty and integrity should play a significant role.
“If you want to survive in this industry, which is largely dominated by men, you ought to uphold the principles of being an honest person and you should not allow money to take precedence over your reputation as doing so would result in your downfall,” said Ms Dube.
She believes despite the profession having been dominated by men, women too were equal to the task.
“As female lawyers we should shun this culture or mentality of claiming that we are somehow marginalised just because we are women. I am just like any other lawyer, male or female, equally skilled and capable and precisely that is what has given me the strength to continue on this path of success,” she said.
Ms Dube said although law appears to be a challenging profession, it requires someone who is honest, diligent and determined to achieve the goals despite the challenges encountered on a day-to-day basis.
“The wave of entrepreneurship that has seen many of us wanting to be our own bosses, run our own empires, implement our own business model as well as empowering ourselves, is what has actually triggered my interest into starting my own law firm,” she said.
Ms Dube said having completed an MBA at Nust and the many years of experience as a lawyer, she was confident she has what it takes to run a business.
“I understand the operational, human resources, strategic planning and financial side of a business, which is what gave me the guts to venture into this business,”she said.
Her counterpart, Ms Ndlovu is a law graduate from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. She has been in legal practice for eight years having worked for several law firms in Bulawayo until March this year when they decided to open their own law firm with Ms Dube.
Ms Ndlovu specialises in family law and has strong passion for issues related to women and children’s rights.
“Soon after registering as a legal practitioner in 2011, I developed a strong desire for justice. Although I am a general legal practitioner, my major areas are family law, deceased estates and civil litigation,” she said.
“As a female lawyer and a mother, I am into family law and also determined to protect and uphold the rights of women and children whose rights would have been infringed including issues around maintenance and the administration of deceased estates.”
Ms Ndlovu said due to some unfair labour practices affecting most women in the legal fraternity, she felt obliged to set up her own law firm.
Her dream was realised on March 24 this year when she and Ms Dube established their law firm.
“I have worked with Ms Dube for years and we developed a strong friendship, which ultimately led to a strong bond and we are now like sisters because of the kind of relationship we have, the support we give each other,” said Ms Ndlovu.
“Our shared goal as women lawyers is to continue growing and opening our own law firm is actually the first step in the right direction.”
Ms Ndlovu said establishing a women law firm was not a stroll in the park because the legal fraternity has for years been dominated by firms run by men.
“Our mentor is Mr Godfrey Nyoni from Moyo and Nyoni Legal Practitioners and Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) councillor. It is important to have a mentor when you are still a university student as well as when you are in the early stages of practising,” she said.
“It is a cutthroat industry and we take each day as it comes. Each day is challenging. What is important is not to look at what the other lawyers are doing, but to look at what you are doing, aim to achieve the best, believing in yourself, be disciplined and honest.”
Ms Ndlovu said it is important for lawyers to be abreast with constantly changing local and global legal trends. — @mashnets