Zinzile, who joined the firm in 2017, said her new position created more leadership opportunities and she was looking forward to the challenge.
“I am incredibly grateful for the support I have received from the partners and the entire Manokore team.”
Her role now means she will be more involved in management decisions with the partners already seeking her opinion.
“It has paved the way for me to take on more mentoring. As an associate, mentoring was something I did informally but that always came naturally to me and, as such, I am excited to have a more structured approach which will in turn lead to a greater reach."
Zinzile’s strength lies in problem solving.
“I am a commercial dispute and tax lawyer so my work involves assisting clients to avoid disputes. This is through the drafting and reviewing of agreements; resolving disputes through negotiation, courts or arbitration; tax structuring and advisory; and resolving tax disputes.
“We are currently operating in a difficult economic environment. Because of this, many clients are at risk of defaulting on their obligations (both commercial and tax obligations), have done so already, or are pursuing a party who has defaulted against them.
“Due to Covid the courts are not functioning as efficiently as they did before, as courts are closed during lockdowns. We have to come up with solutions for clients that suit their particular business models, which exclude court involvement as much as possible.” Each solution is different and is heavily reliant on negotiation skills, says Zinzile.
Most recently, her skills were needed at the inception of a business arrangement to ensure that the parties entered into agreements with efficient dispute resolution mechanisms that would not be affected by the court closure.
“We are also negotiating more out of court settlements now. I believe all authorities, including the tax authorities, are aware of the difficult operating environment at present, which has meant we have had meaningful engagement when trying to assist clients to catch up with outstanding tax obligations,” she said.
In high school Zinzile wanted to join the hospitality industry but was encouraged by her family to pursue law.
She studied and also began her career in South Africa.
“Studying in Cape Town was a great experience. I love the beach and the ocean and I also love hiking so I enjoyed the long summer hours when I could go for a hike or to the beach after classes. Besides the lifestyle, I was privileged to learn from some of the most influential legal minds in Africa during my time at the University of Cape Town such as Professor Hugh Corder, Judge Dennis Davies and Professor Tjakie Naude.”
In Cape Town she was fortunate to work for a principal who included her in meetings with government departments and high-net worth clients which built her confidence.
He also introduced her to senior counsel and encouraged her to learn from them, laying the foundation for the lawyer she is now.
Her advice to young women wanting to enter the legal profession is to read, prepare and have something of value to add to every conversation.
“This is a male-dominated world - it’s even called the ‘legal fraternity’ which is traditionally associated with a brotherhood. There is no escaping that. As a woman, my advice is ‘speak up’. Being the only woman in the room can work to your favour. In addition, if you are not the most junior person in a meeting do not volunteer to take the notes or minutes. Raise your head and engage in the meeting. Build rapport because you will learn that clients and colleagues gravitate towards people they feel comfortable around. Lastly, keep an eye on the market and know what is being offered to your peers and male counterparts, and then negotiate for yourself just as hard as you negotiate for your clients.”
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