Age no hindrance to young lawyer
Sinenhlanhla Mthembu was only 25 when she followed her dream and founded her own law firm in Durban.
Growing up in a rural town in northern KwaZulu-Natal, Mthembu wanted to be a doctor but in grade 9 she realised that she was not the biggest fan of science-related subjects and had to change course.
"I then job-shadowed a magistrate in my hometown, Eshowe, for a life orientation project and that was the day I fell in love with law," she said.
An attorney and director of Passcara & Partners Incorporated, she graduated from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 2017 and set off on her career to work for a Durban law firm in 2018.
"It's funny because my friend and I had spoken about opening a law firm while we were still in second year but I took it as a joke. It was only when I had completed my degree and in the process of doing my articles that I then decided that I needed to open my own law firm," she said.
With a dream to start her own practice, Mthembu quit her job and became her own boss in January.
This decision came with many challenges. Her age has also been a cause for concern by some who question her experience and capabilities.
"People don't know that it took me quite a while to actually have an office of my own because of finances. My age has also been a challenge. I know what I'm meant to be doing and when I'm not sure and get lost I have experienced colleagues I can turn to. That's how the profession works, we are a team," she said.
The law firm focuses on providing affordable high quality and professional legal services dealing with civil matters, deceased estates, the Road Accident Fund as well as drafting contracts and wills.
The Covid-19 pandemic gave a huge knock to the business which started operating a few months before the national lockdown was implemented.
"Even after we were given permits, it was still hard to work as clients were still terrified to leave their homes. I didn't let that stand in my way. I still had bills to pay and Covid-19 was definitely not going to pay those bills for me."
She used the lockdown period to broaden and sharpen her contract and will drafting skills to survive. The business also relied heavily on phone consultations. The 26-year-old is also a content creator with a make-up company and an events decor company hoping to inspire other young women to take up space and create opportunities for themselves. "I want to inspire young people who do not believe that it is possible for a black woman to make it in a male-dominated industry."
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