Two Exemplary Young South Africans Share Their Thoughts On The Real Importance Of A Law Degree

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02 Aug 2016

Two outstanding young South Africans, law student and Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group bursary recipient Kamogelo Sono and school pupil and future law student, Lesedi Nkwe have commented on the importance of pro bono work in their law careers and what they would say to others aspiring to be lawyers who might feel that this is unattainable for them.

Kamogelo Sono is studying towards his LLB qualification at the University of Pretoria (UP).  He has a bursary from the Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group and will join the firm as a candidate attorney at the beginning of 2017, once he has completed his final year of his LLB. Lesedi Nkwe is currently the deputy head boy at Redhill High School. Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group sponsor Lesedi through an organisation called Student Sponsorship Programme (SSP). Lesedi has applied to study towards an LLB qualification next year, and has already been accepted by the Universities of Cape Town, Witwatersrand and Stellenbosch.

Sono, says, “Pro bono work is one of the reasons why I wanted to be a lawyer in the first place. My attraction to the law was not what it could do for me but what it can help me do for my community. I come from a relatively poverty stricken community where there is limited access to resources and quality education. I saw the law as a way I could help people who cannot afford access to the courts and essentially access to justice as a result. Leadership is not about positions and titles, it’s about service to people and being accountable to the people. And pro bono work for me is a sign of good leadership.”

Nkwe agrees, “I believe that pro bono work is very important, especially as a future lawyer. I believe that the law industry has the capacity to make a positive social difference and being part of the Bowman Gilfillan team for this initiative has proven to me that even in a professional space, I will still be able to be an agent for change in my community.

Sono says that he would tell young students hoping to be a lawyer but who might feel this is unattainable that,  “My favourite quote is ‘keep grinding boy your life can change in one year,’ by J.Cole. These words to me are a reminder that your circumstances don’t control your future. My advice is to keep dreaming, keep believing. Have faith in yourself and your abilities.

“I remember when I enrolled for my second year of studies at the University of Pretoria I didn’t even know how I was going to pay the fees but something came up without me even having to look or apply for it. I got the Bowman Gilfillan Bursary and now I am almost done with my fourth and final year of studies.

“Basically the moral of my story is that one must always keep working hard, you never know who is watching. I believe that young people need to use their circumstances as their motivation, drive and propeller rather than as their kryptonite. And remember that you learn more from failure than success, and to be honest when you are young, you never really have failures, you just have a few setbacks, so you owe it to yourself to fight for your dreams,” he notes.

Nkwe says he would remind young people that their dreams are valid, and that their future does not have to be defined by their past; that there are many ways in which they can achieve their goal by working towards opportunities such as bursaries. Although the fundamental principle is believing in oneself, as everything that you do flows from this very principle.

“I would just like to add that although I have come from difficult odds, I have dared to dream and that has made all the difference in my life. I am a firm believer that if you dare to dream, and if you put in the necessary work, all things are possible and you can achieve. I would also like to add that being a social agent is an important part of who I am, as I have come to learn the value of extending a helping hand, whether big or small. Being part of the Johannesburg Junior Council has opened my eyes to some of the harsh realities of our society, and has inspired me to work even harder so that one day, I may be part of the change I wish to see in the world,” he adds.

(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)

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