Realeboga Tshetlo

Advocate, Victoria Mxenge Group

Realeboga Tshetlo quips that the universe conspired against him to get him into the legal profession: he intended to study towards a medical degree, following in his mother’s footsteps, or a theology degree. “Mathematics and science were relentless aggressors that dealt a fatal blow towards my aspirations of becoming a medical practitioner,” he says. “My father’s uncle has worked as a magistrate for most of his life and he often told riveting tales of his work life. His career path seemed to be an obvious choice. “We met with him and discussed various career choices, along with some of his friends who were attorneys and advocates.

I was a child and was impressionable. The rest is history. In hindsight, I am grateful for the unexpected intervention of these great men,” he says. Tshetlo (28) completed his articles of clerkship and went on to practice as a banking and finance attorney at Webber Wentzel Attorneys before joining the Johannesburg Society of Advocates as a pupil in 2014.

He clerked for Justice Johan Froneman at the Constitutional Court of South Africa, an experience he remembers fondly. He commenced practice as a junior advocate in 2015 and is a member of the Victoria Mxenge Group of Advocates.

In his short time at the Bar, he has acted for clients alongside respected and well established Senior Counsel at the Bar, and has appeared in various divisions of the High Court of South Africa, the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court. He has been briefed mainly in constitutional and administrative law and public interest matters, including the constitutional challenge brought by Justices Bess Nkabinde and Christopher Jafta against the Judicial Service Commission; acting for in the High Court, Supreme Court of Appeal and Constitutional Court in the hotly contested legal battle regarding the digital migration policy; and acting for the speaker of the National Assembly in the direct application to the Constitutional Court involving the motion of no confidence, among many others. “It is an absolute privilege to be a member of the Johannesburg Society of Advocates.

I have access to some of the finest legal minds in our country and an open-ended opportunity to learn from my colleagues,” he says. “I am determined to work hard and join the ranks of Senior Counsel, and hopefully, serve my country as a Judge of the High Court (or courts of similar status), Supreme Court of Appeal and Constitutional Court in years to come. Tshetlo has a special word for his female colleagues. “It is often said, and it is true, that the legal fraternity is unkind to women, particularly black women. There are systemic problems that create barriers to entry, exposure and training. And of course, there is the unresolved and hotly debated issue of skewed briefing patterns.

The advancement of women in the legal profession (and other disciplines) is an issue that cannot be exhausted and requires urgent attention. I applaud my female colleagues at the bar, side-bar, academia and corporate who are doing exceptional work under less than ideal circumstances. “I encourage key role players in government, the public and private sector and members of our profession to meaningfully engage with the issue of transformation, giving particular focus to the development and promotion of women.”

— Kerry Haggard

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