Phetole Modika had teachers at school that encouraged critical thinking and problem-solving through logical reasoning and thorough research. He felt that the legal profession was the ideal environment for him to further develop these skills, while giving him the opportunity to make a difference in society.
“Those lessons have proved to be critical to this day, as I have a good command of legal concepts relevant to my field, and can undertake complex legal analysis to appreciate how the various components of a finance transaction interrelate,” he explains. A partner at Bowmans, Modika specialises in finance (debt and equity), general banking and financial services. He represents local and foreign banks in respect of finance and security structures, which include real estate, structured, leveraged and acquisition finance.
He has also acquired experience in certain specialist areas of finance, such as public finance, and aircraft finance, including the novation and extension of existing aircraft operating leases. “My goal is to be recognised as an expert in my field and be regarded as one of the go-to lawyers in Africa when it comes to the provision of advice to clients on aspects of transactions which involve or require banking and finance expertise,” he says.
“On the journey to achieving this goal, I aim to also actively provide training to up and coming junior lawyers who are the future of South Africa.” Modika emphasises that the legal profession is steeped in tradition and places significant importance on the number of years one has practised which, affects the nature of mandates from clients. “Because I am relatively young, I have found that it can be difficult to attract the more prestigious mandates, as the prevailing perception is that matters of these nature can only be handled by very senior lawyers within the profession,” he says.
“I have however been fortunate as these limitations are mitigated by the fact that the field of banking finance is still developing, and is allowing younger lawyers to acquire technical expertise at a steep learning curve. Bowmans’ banking and finance team also includes very senior lawyers, who have provided me with great exposure to both clients and significant and complex matters from an early age.” Modika believes that education is the ultimate equaliser and cannot be taken away or ignored. “I was born and raised in a small village outside of Tzaneen called Jamela and have, through education, been fortunate to work for one of the biggest law firms in Africa. As young South Africans, we need to strive for a South Africa where a story similar to mine is not an exception but a norm,” he says.
— Kerry Haggard