Nicole Fritz

Director, Southern African Litigation Centre

Nicole Fritz was never very sure she wanted to be a lawyer. Even though she was politically active at university and admired lawyers who had worked on bahalf of detainees under apartheid, a brief stint shadowing a conveyancing partner at a Johannesburg law firm convinced her she might "die very early of boredom�. Fritz intended to be a journalist. As an undergraduate in Pietermaritzburg, she worked on the student newspaper, winning a competition to intern at the Mail & Guardian. But after six weeks in the newsroom, covering sports, and time spent in London that ground down her hopes of joining the English Media Establishemt, she returned to Wits to complete an LLB. It was there she discovered that law, "although at times deeply dreary, could also be hugely stimulating and exciting � particularly public and constitutional law�. Fritz distinguished herself early on. She worked at the Constitutional Court as clerk to Judge Richard Goldstone at a time when the court, as she puts it, was "in its beginning years, when it was issuing judgments that have laid the foundations for our democracy � . As a Hauser Global Scholar she earned an LLM in international legal studies from New York University and has taught at Wits School of Law as well as New York's Fordham School of Law. She is currently the director of the Southern African Litigation Centre, which supports human rights and the rule of law in the region. She has also worked with the National League for Democracy in Burma and, last year, addressed a conference of Iraqi and Kurdish parliamentarians on reconciliation. "Legal systems,� she says, "are the frameworks within which we structure, order and plan our lives. At their most evolved, legal systems help us flourish, not just guaranteeing the most basic rights.� � Lynley Donnelly

Lunch spot: The Patisserie, Illovo, Johannesburg