TOUGH ADVICE THAT SAVED MY LIFE

“After serving my articles in a law firm, I was driven by the need to create my own legacy and, being entrepreneurial, I opened my own legal practice in Durban. It proved to be much more
difficult than I had anticipated because many of us were opening our own commercial law firms and competing against large corporations.

“After serving my articles in a law firm, I was driven by the need to create my own legacy and, being entrepreneurial, I opened my own legal practice in Durban. It proved to be much more difficult than I had anticipated because many of us were opening our own commercial law firms and competing against large corporations. One month the practice would bring in lots of money and the next month, I wouldn’t be able to draw a salary as I had overheads and three employees to prioritise. Fortunately, I was able to run the practice for almost three years, despite
the insecurity. “The KwaZulu-Natal Law Society had seconded a designated mentor to each start-up law firm to guide us and ensure we were following regulations. I formed a strong bond with my
designated mentor, Cynthia Naidoo. “When she realised that my firm wasn’t achieving the growth I’d hoped for, she asked if I’d ever considered specialising in compliance. She explained that there weren’t many lawyers in that field, despite the many opportunities that existed in it. I’d never even heard of it, but immediately began researching it and learnt that I’d be required to obtain a new qualification, over my LLB. “My new career path was extremely demanding. I depleted all my savings on obtaining the qualification, lost my car and also lost a love relationship, due to the pressure. “Two years ago after obtaining the qualification, I closed my practice and moved to Johannesburg with just a suitcase, R1 000 and no place to live.

My plan was simple: I had only three months to find a job as a compliance officer and start a new life from scratch. If it didn’t work out, I’d return home to Durban with my tail between my legs. Fortunately, friends of mine offered me rent-free accommodation while I was applying for jobs and looking for a place to stay. I prayed that this decision wouldn’t turn out to be the biggest mistake of my life. “On the very last day of the three months in Johannesburg, I signed a job offer and the lease agreement for a rented place.

Now, two years later, my life’s changed drastically. I’ve paid off the bond on my own property and car and am planning to study towards my Master’s degree in corporate compliance. “I’ve also maintained a close relationship with Cynthia, who sometimes asks me to speak to other attorneys who are just starting out.”