Being a lawyer in a developing country is fraught with challenges, especially during interactions with government institutions. To succeed in this predominately male-oriented industry, you must develop a thick skin from day one.
I studied Law in the UK and my legal career began in 2002 as a junior associate in one of the reputable law firms in Tanzania. As a woman, I had to be wary of obstacles that could derail my success such as excessive drinking, recreational drugs and indecent proposals from higher-ups. Recognition by peers and clients requires hard work, commitment and clocking in thousands of billable hours. Sacrificing my own personal development, health and time spent with family was the only way I knew how to succeed. I worked for the same firm for over eight years, slowing rising up the ranks, until I was made junior partner.
I left the firm in 2010 and went back to the UK to pursue a Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice, hoping to eventually qualify as a solicitor. The competition for training contracts was stiff, particularly for mature students. Undeterred, I came back to Tanzania in 2012 and joined a small boutique firm. While working at both firms, I advised clients on finance, oil and gas and energy transactions. The most rewarding experiences came from helping companies navigate through unchartered territories, advising the Government of Tanzania on transactions such as the bus rapid transit system, and becoming a client’s trusted advisor.
I set up my own firm, Novita Law in 2015, after working for a total of 12 years in practice. My areas of expertise are now focused mainly on corporate and commercial law. The firm operates at a much slower pace than what I am used to. I still practice and hope to pass on to my team the same principles and values that were instilled in me during my training days. Being ranked by Chambers Global for a number of years, even after I left the corporate world, has been my greatest achievement to date. The acknowledgments confirm the belief that hard work and dedication are keys to success.
What does success look like?
Perseverance, discipline and self-respect. These are the core values that I practice every day, which I believe have shaped the course of my career.
What is your best piece of advice?
Women can be afraid to pursue their dreams because they fear failure and judgment. Be brave, be bold and be true to yourself.