Michelle Le Roux

Advocate

Michelle Le Roux is a member of both the New York and the Johannesburg Bars. Not bad for a woman who was not sure she was going to practise law in the first place. During her university career (at the university of Cape Town) "I spent a lot of time doing NGO related work, and any other distraction rather than studying,� she says. Le Roux left South Africa to spend time as an intern in the united States. Then, using the contacts she had built up, she set up practice in Colorado, where she helped create a "multi-door court house�, which offered mediation services for employment and family law disputes. In the summer of 1999 she moved to New York, where she took a job as an associate at a local law firm, working toward her master's at the New York university School of Law. She went on to work at a number of other firms, successfully arguing cases in the uS Circuit Court, the US District Court and the New York Supreme Court. "I am especially proud of winning a multi million-dollar verdict against Wal-Mart for disability discrimination in my first federal trial, as well as the work I did on gender discrimination in some of the largest Wall Street institutions,� she says. It was the offer to co-write a book with Judge Dennis Davis that finally drew Le Roux back to South Africa. While researching the book, Precedent & Possibility: the (ab)use of law in South Africa, and interviewing the lawyers, judges and litigants involved in the cases she cited, she realised she would be able to make "a more meaningful contribution� in South Africa than she could by simply being another trial lawyer in New York. Now Le Roux, who has been back in South Africa for more than three years, lectures at UCT and Wits and works on cases such as one in the Competition Appeal Court against excessive pricing by steel giant ArcelorMittal. � Lynley Donnelly

Lunch spot: Koi, Sandton