This week, we chat to 25 year old Otlile Mooketsi who is an admitted attorney from South Africa, with experience in third party litigation, commercial law and labour law (a sphere she has just recently entered in.) Otlile describes herself as an alpha female and in this interview she tells us what it means to be an alpha female. Below is the interview between For Women in Law (FWIL) and Otlile Mooketsi (OM)
FWIL: Please tell us what qualifications you hold
OM: An LLB degree and admitted attorney
FWIL: What is your area of expertise?
OM: Third party litigation , commercial and I’ve recently entered into the labour law sphere.
FWIL: What inspired you to study law?
OM: When I realized that the only way I could constructively make an impact in the lives of other black people was to challenge the laws that were designed to hinder their progress. The only way I thought I could challenge the laws was to become a lawyer.
FWIL: Where did you serve your articles of clerkship?
OM: Maponya Incorporated
FWIL: As a woman in law, have you experienced gender bias? If yes, How have you dealt with it?
OM: As a young black woman I have definitely experienced gender bias whether directly or indirectly . One thing that I do , when I recognize or suspect that there is a bias at play is to always take the opportunity to address it directly to my opponent or superior. Take the opportunity to address these kind of issues when presented with them.
Fact is , the issue of Gender bias is something that is persistent within all spheres of employment including the law fraternity. We need to actively and consciously take the decision to address it.
FWIL: More women are now venturing into male-dominated territories, and it’s beautiful to witness. In order to continue to witness more of these audacious and passionate women entering these fields, we need to support each other. This is not always the case, however. What advice would you give to a young woman entering the work environment and who is facing black-balling and “hate” from older/senior women in the work place?
OM: Be excellent at what you do. If there’s anything that I have come to realize is that , your work ethic will always precede you. So when you strive daily to be excellent at what you do and you’re resilient people learn to respect you. This does not mean that you won’t receive “hate” or jealousy however they will respect you . Also the work space is exactly that , WORK.People not liking you comes with the territory , don’t go into that space hoping to grow friendships because it might not always unfold that way and be prepared for it. So young black girl , be excellent and stand your ground.
FWIL: What does being an alpha female mean to you?
OM: My understanding of what an alpha female is , speaks to a woman who Is brave.A woman that dedicates time to perfect her craft in order to be excellent at it . She is driven, resilient and actively attempts to make a positive contribution to the world.She is a well-rounded an individual who aspires to not only continue learning but be gracious in her setbacks. The Alpha female strives challenge the constraints that have been imposed by society on an up and coming young , black and educated woman .
FWIL: The journey of most legal professionals is not always an easy one. What are some of the lessons you have learned along the way and how have they shaped your outlook on life?
OM: Fundamentally , do not attach yourself to an organization or a company rather attach yourself to a purpose. When you stay focused on your purpose then you are able to prioritize your vision and peace of mind. It’s important that on an ongoing bases , you assess what is it that you want to achieve and identify what fulfils you.This has assisted me in that , my vision of what I want for myself and my career is clear. Therefore when you have clarity you are able to be decisive in your decision making , which could include leaving your employment to seek another skill set or experience or whatever else sets your soul on fire.
FWIL: What is the best advice you would give to aspiring legal professionals?
OM: Do not give up. Take a break , rest , reassess and implement.The journey is a difficult one , in completing your LLB , serving articles and being admitted. Find solace in knowing that other people have done it , so can you . Also understand that the profession needs you to make it , so that we can make a difference.
FWIL: As a legal professional, it is quite important to effectively use your network. How do you meet other legal professionals and what are some of your effective networking skills?
OM: The Law society continuously coordinates conferences and seminars which are open for attendance. It’s important that as a young practitioner you avail yourself to these events , so that you are aware of the developments that take place in the profession . I am member of the Black Lawyers Association , which prides it’s self in recruiting young members who desire to make a positive contribution to the profession for the benefit of us all. They have student a chapter in most universities , I encourage you to reach out.
FWIL: What does the term “role model” mean to you? Which phenomenal woman in law would you call your role model?
OM: My understanding of that term is someone whom, by virtue of them living their own life, has managed to inspire other people. I believe , it speaks to someone who is not only authentic their professional commitments but also to their purpose. In so doing , they are able to ignite a light or believe in people seeking to join a similar journey.Thuli Madonsela is one of the women I must meet. She is the embodiment of a well spoken , brave and gracious black woman.
FWIL: What has been your greatest achievement to date?
OM: Being admitted as an attorney
FWIL: How can people reach out to you? (social media handles)
OM: Instagram: @Otli_m
Twitter : @ms_oh_tee