Precious Gondwe of Precious and Partners
Gondwe - or “Adv. Pee” - as she signs off on her electronic messages - says she is a problem solver and “sometimes troubleshooter”, prerequisite skills for any lawyer.
But her personality is perhaps best reflected by a google photo search of her where she comfortably slips from the black attired, hair scraped back professional into posing for a fashion shoot, wearing a flower garland in her hair and a flirtatious pink dress.
In that interview she cites her love of God and her husband as being most “precious in her life”.
Followed by her passion for law.
Gondwe told Africa Legal she began work as a legal secretary, which inspired her to pursue a degree in law.
“I eventually completed it in 2014 with the University of South Africa. I think that my passion was cultivated over the years where everything lawyers did was to solve problems.
“I am a visionary and a dreamer. I say this because, whenever I put my mind into something, I go all out to get it, it does not matter what it takes! I must get it done.”
Precious and Partners was founded by Gondwe in April last year when she was just 30 years old.
She says she wanted to provide a haven for young, female black lawyers in different spheres of legal practice - a place where they could be their own person.
This would allow for multiple partnerships and to grow the practice into several branches all across Africa and beyond.
“Our goal is to provide a world class service to clients using e-technology and 21st century case management systems tailor-suited for the client. We strive to be the best and most preferred.”
Another goal is to challenge the African-centred notion that “women cannot be trusted to get things done without being questioned or scrutinized about capacity”.
“Not just in our profession but anywhere in Africa women in business have to work twice as hard to gain trust and confidence with potential clients or any other stakeholders…but we are ready to change all of that because we now represent that, after all The Law is female!
“It can be very frustrating but I believe that with hard work and focus coupled with tenacity, eventually one gains trust and confidence from the masses.
“I also believe one’s work ethic and client care ultimately speaks volumes.”
Gondwe says while the practice - which employs six for now - focuses on commercial and corporate law, conveyancing and notarial services. But they do take on individual cases in family law and other related services on a discretionary basis and she remains a passionate family and human rights lawyer.
And she constantly seeks self-improvement through research, personal development courses and “good reads”.
“There are hurdles which have mostly to do with external stakeholders in the legal processes. Delays and the pace of delivery can make it harder to get things done swiftly for the client. So one must push harder to get water out of a rock if needs be.”
Gondwe says legal reform is a “hot topic” in Africa because of the growing political, economic and legal challenges in the continent.
“Every one of the challenges delve into the laws in place that require an overhaul.
“This creates new opportunities for young women lawyers to take part in policy negotiation and analysis of political and legal systems that are tied to Africa's development including, for example, international trade.
“We hope to be part of the process to contribute positively towards legal reform.”
Top tip for young lawyers:
Adopt a “to do” attitude, set clear goals, have a plan.
“A written plan goes a long way in providing guidance and helps one to gauge how far you have come and map the way forward towards achieving the intended goal.”
To read more from Africa Legal's 'Women in Law' series click here