This month we chat to 25 year old Nako Tebele, admitted attorney at Ramalepa Attorneys in Botswana. As a new entrant to the legal field, Nako’s hunger and eagerness is the motivation behind her willingness to realizing her full potential in this field. She completed her Bachelor of Laws at the University of Botswana. Earlier this year Nako was featured in Inbusiness Magazine and described as a youthful lawyer with a bright future. Below is our interview with the phenomenal woman in law.
FWIL:Please tell us what qualifications you hold
NT:I hold an LLB (UB).
FWIL:What is your area of expertise?
NT:I have almost 2 years’ worth of experience as a practicing attorney, so I am not specializing as yet, I take on all types of cases and learn as I go. However, I will state that lately, I am quite inclined to the Law of Estate Planning and Management as well as that of Corporate Governance. These are quite divergent, but that is the beauty of working in a law firm where I am not restricted to the type of work I take on. Perhaps after a few more years of experience I will be able to tell my area of expertise.
FWIL:What inspired you to study law?
NT:From high school, I was always good at English and writing, more so that I did English as a first language, and I was the best literature student in my Cambridge year which I was awarded for. From then on, I knew that I wanted to be in a field where I should be able to use words and reasoning to get ahead in life. It therefore became an easy choice when I applied for university and placed law as my first choice, which I got.
FWIL:Where did you serve your articles of clerkship?
NT:In Botswana they are called “Pupillage”, and I did them for 12 months (which is the minimum period required under the Act) at Ramalepa Attorneys under the tutelage of the Managing Partner.
FWIL:As a woman in law, have you experienced gender bias? If yes, how have you dealt with it?
NT:I have experienced gender bias, I experience it every day as a woman in law. However, I have, with my mentor, had conversations about how to react to the negative that happens to you. I choose to ignore it and concentrate on thriving at what I do, because I would exert so much energy in trying to prove that I am as capable as a man. I believe that I am, I know that I am, and I choose to Iet my work speak for itself, and allow the thrill to come from there. I choose to SIT AT THE TABLE, and DO THE WORK.
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?
NT:I always say that we all have room to thrive, in our own right, in our own space, even if we share a space. I find nothing more fulfilling than assisting another person, perhaps this may be another reason why I elected to become an attorney- to help others. I would therefore say to the older/senior women who aren’t so helpful the young and upcoming, that they got a chance when they began, and that it is only right that they give one too. I would then say to myself and other young women starting their career that exposing your vulnerability actually works in your favour because people then tend to assist you more with open hearts. It helps not to be a know-it-all and do not be ashamed to do the small simple work in the beginning because in essence that is how you start and work your way up by proving yourself to be worthy of the bigger and more complex work. Trust me, you will not always have do the ‘simple small work’, but going through helps in the long run when you get to run your own empire because you would know it from top to bottom. The more we uplift one another, the more we open more avenues for ourselves as women and normalize women holding high ranking positions, more so that these are positions that have been traditionally deemed to be reserved for men only.
FWIL:What does an Alpha Female mean to you?
NT:An alpha female is a woman who stands out in what she does and is not only good at it, but immensely confident in it. She possess great prowess and strength, with grace and maintains a good poise. She is sure of her stance, and knows that saying no to what she doesn’t believe in doesn’t mean that she is not a good person, it means she knows herself very well, and knows exactly what she wants.
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?
NT:I have learnt to know my stance and my values and stick to them. There will always be someone who doesn’t like you or one who doesn’t get along with you, and sometimes it may be for no particular reason, just that your presence and success infuriates them, however I have learnt that I cannot let this come in between me and my dreams and aspirations. For so long as I have set goals and work toward them daily, I cannot allow an outside source to destroy them simply by perceptions they have about me.
FWIL:What is the best advice you would give to aspiring legal professionals?
NT:Identify a mentor within the profession, or someone to shadow even before you start practicing. Seek advice and work from them whilst still in school to create a relationship and see first-hand what your day to day work will look like. This will help you to enter the professional space more swiftly and build your confidence as you go.
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?
NT:I am a practicing attorney, therefore I have the advantage of always meeting other lawyers in court every week and I have great bosses who believe in me and always take me to big meetings with other legal professionals where I get to meet and interact with them. I have also established a habit of just reaching to other lawyers. To give you an example, I have met the phenomenal professional woman that is Aurelia Nxumalo just last month in Sandton all because I stumbled upon her on Instagram and she was very welcoming of me. I managed to get a few insights on how I can spread my wings within this legal profession from the conversation I had with her. I am firmer believer of building relationships rather than leveraging them.
FWIL:What does the term “role model” mean to you? Which phenomenal woman in law would you call your role model?
NT:Role Model means someone whose behaviour, success and habits you look up and admire to, in accordance to their role. On the contrary, my role model is a man in law, not a woman. He is Victor Ramalepa, a practicing attorney with over 15 years’ worth of experience, the founder of Ramalepa Attorneys and the Managing Partner. He has taught me most of what I have spoken above and continues to instil great values within me. He sees great potential in me and will stop at nothing in unleashing it. I learn a lot from him, daily.
FWIL:What has been your greatest achievement to date?
NT:I think I will able to answer this after a few years once I have managed to start all the projects I am currently establishing. However, I am not easily satisfied, I always strive for more for it to feel like an achievement to me.
FWIL:How can people reach out to you? (Social media handles)
NT:Instagram – nako_tebele and facebook – Nako B Tebele. Unfortunately, I am not on twitter, I have never known how to use it. And my email is firstname.lastname@example.org