This month we chat to phenomenal woman in law, Tshepiso Scott, who is an admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa and holds an LLB and LLM from the University of Pretoria.She is the co-founder and managing director of TumboScott, an all black female owned company that provides high quality legal services to companies and individuals, and prides itself in making their services available to the “missing middle” i.e. Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs).
Tshepiso practiced as a corporate associate at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr and has experience in competition law, corporate and commercial law, constitutional law, public interest litigation and dispute resolution.
She also completed a 12 month clerkship at the Constitutional Court of South Africa.
Below is the interview between For Women in Law (FWIL) and the beautiful Tshepiso Scott (TS), verbatim.
FWIL:What is your area of expertise?
TS:Consumer protection law
FWIL:What inspired you to study law?
TS:So law was not my first choice. I always thought I would study astronomy. But I was later bitten by the legal bug and never looked back.
FWIL:As a woman in law, have you experienced gender bias? If yes, How have you dealt with it?
TS:Yes gender bias is everywhere and the legal fraternity is not an exception. I have dealt with it differently depending on the circumstances. For the most part I do not let it steal my energy. Instead I focus on getting the job done and growing the business. Usually once people have seen the calibre of your work, they put aside their own biases and appreciate that you are adding value.
FWIL:What does being an alpha female mean to you?
TS:Being an alpha female means leading and providing strategic direction. More importantly for me it is your ability as a women to pull fellow females up along with you on the journey.
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?
TS:I have learnt that it is so important to keep my eyes on the prize, which is becoming the best in my area of expertise. I have also learned that the many challenges I have encountered along my journey, are meant to build my character and teach me more about who I am and who I am working towards becoming.
FWIL:What is the best advice you would give to aspiring legal professionals?
TS:Keep your eye on the prize. Set a goal and (legally) eliminate anything that gets in the way of you achieving what you set out to do!
FWIL:What are some of things that you had to re-learn and unlearn in the process of setting up the company that you co-founded, TumboScott
TS:When I co-founded TumboScott I had to relearn the importance of personal branding and the incredible benefit of having a strong network and building it constantly.In so far as unlearning is concerned, I was trained in one of the big five law firms in South Africa, which has a very solid system of support in place. By support systems I am referring to billing and invoicing systems, administrative assistance, and the constant inflow of work. I had to unlearn that comfort, very quickly. Starting-up a legal consultancy meant that everything needed to be created – from scratch. From setting up a domain for email addresses and websites to finding suitable document cloud storage systems. I also, for the first time, had to find work myself and find human capital to assist the company in executing any instructions. It was a HUGE learning curb. I have learned to become more than just a lawyer, but also an entrepreneur and a manager.
FWIL:What specific legal services does TumboScott provide?
- TumboScott is a corporate and commercial legal service provider. We have the following legal service offerings:
- Corporate and commercial law- Commercial transactional work- Contract law (reviews and legal advice);- Company secretarial consulting and services; – Employment contracts and policies;- Information workshops; and- Due diligence, regulatory and compliance services.
- Dispute resolution- Constitutional law and constitutional litigation consulting;- Initiating and chairing of disciplinary hearings
- Research and advisory – Legal research and advisory services; and- Legal opinions.
FWIL:What skills do you think every young woman lawyer (or aspirant) needs to have?
TS:All technical skills are acquired and refined in practice. But I think I can speak more towards what attributes a good lawyer should have. A good young woman lawyer needs to be hardworking, diligent and creative. I add creative as an attribute because the law is not black and white and creative thinking will definitely give you the edge.
FWIL:As a business owner, what is the key in keeping great reviews?
TS:Making sure that every task is executed timeously and meticulously. The client must always be kept happy!
FWIL:What recent change/amendment in the law has caught your attention? (do you agree with the change? Why/why not)
TS:Most recent change must be the judgment that was handed down by the Constitutional Court in the case of Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and Others v Prince (CCT108/17)  ZACC 30. This judgement decriminalised the private use of cannabis in South Africa. The judgment caught my attention because of the resilience of Prince. Back in 2009, I learned about how he was denied admission as an attorney because of his use of cannabis, which was part of his religious practice. If you followed the matter in the media you would have noticed that he represented himself in a colourful robe, at the Constitutional Court to see the matter through, which was quite commendable.
Do I agree with the decriminalisation of the private use of cannabis?Yes. I think the order was thoughtfully crafted to try and prevent abuse of the decriminalisation, as it is restricted to private use by adults and the cultivation of cannabis is also meant to occur on private property. Any other loopholes will need to be considered and addressed by the Legislature at the legislative amendment stage. I think the judgment is particularly important for people who observe the Rastafarian religion – they can now practice their religious beliefs with dignity.
FWIL:The world is constantly changing, in your opinion, what are some of the challenges that legal professionals will face in future?
TS:Technology and artificial intelligence. The people in the tech space are always trying to find ways in which people’s lives may be made simpler and there is already technology that is out there to help ordinary people draft simple agreements or complete due diligences reports. So legal professionals need to constantly stay abreast with technological developments and see how they can incorporate technology into their practices. Otherwise they may become irrelevant and left behind by the tech tide.
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?
TS:My primary legal network was established at University. That network has legal professionals I have worked with at my previous firm, those I met while clerking at the Constitutional Court and those I have met while completing postgraduate studies. I constantly attend networking events and try to present at seminars or at workshops to increase my network.A networking skill that I have been taught and often adopt is to start a conversation with the person who seems to be the most quiet person in the room – it generally always adds an additional person to my network!
FWIL:What does the term “role model” mean to you? Which phenomenal woman in law would you call your role model?
TS:A role model is someone who inspires me to reach greater heights.I would call Adv Mojanku Gumbi, an absolutely phenomenal woman in law, my role model. She has built a solid legal career and reputation for herself over the years. She is extremely humble yet highly knowledgeable and wise.
FWIL:What books have you read that have greatly influenced your life?
TS:“Mastery” by Robert Greene“Equal but different” by Judy DlaminiSteve Biko’s I write what I likeA number of books in the Holy Bible
FWIL:What’s a quote that you live by? Your mantra
TS:My mantra is: Keep your eye on the prize!
FWIL: How do you remain autonomous while working in corporate?
TS:Working in my own company gives me a lot of autonomy. That said, I cannot abuse it because if I do not bill I will not see a pay cheque at the end of the month 😊
FWIL: How can people reach out to you? (social media handles)
TS: @tshepisoscott on twitter and Instagram Tshepiso Scott on LinkedIn