Senior associate, Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyer
It was never Mongezi Mpahlwa’s intention to study law, but he found that he excelled more in the law subjects in the Bcom degree for which he was accepted, and relished the problem-solving inherent in these subjects over the commerce subjects that were his first choice. After completing his Bcom (law) degree, he then furthered his studies and registered for an LLB degree.
He began his legal career as a candidate attorney at Abrahams Kiewitz, but later joined Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, where he is now a senior associate, practicing in the area of civil and commercial litigation in the High Court, Magistrates’ Court and The Arbitration Foundation of Southern Africa. His particular focus is on insolvency, business rescue, commercial litigation and arbitrations. Mphahlwa joined the Black Lawyers Association (BLA) as a young law student in 2010, and has held various leadership roles in the organisation since then.
“I am focused on building a sustainable practice with a national footprint, which services state-owned enterprises and emerging black industrial companies in the long term.” he says. “I also want to study towards a master’s qualification in international trade law and to build an international arbitration practice with a particular focus on bilateral agreements such as the Brics, WTO, and the ICC, among others.” Mphahlwa has a passion of mentoring and transferring skills to young black practitioners entering the profession, and contributes frequently to various related initiatives.
“I would argue that my active participation in the BLA has enabled me to build enough confidence and character to be able to face up to the many challenges which face young black professionals entering the corporate environment,” he says. “It has also exposed me to various networks and platforms through which I have been able to sell myself as a competent young lawyer. “The legal profession is not as glamorous as on TV — it takes a lot of hard work, commitment and dedication. It is also highly competitive. The first five years of any young lawyer’s career should be dedicated towards learning and gaining as much experience as possible.
Every young lawyer should identify a mentor at an early stage of their career who will be the source of career guidance and support through their journey to become an established practitioner.” Mpahlwa also encourages those choosing a career in law to become active citizens in matters affecting youth development in our country. “Taking part in conversations around transformation of the legal profession and other related sectors from an early stage of one’s career is quite critical to understand the environment in which they will be practising,” he says.
— Kerry Haggard