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Eki Yemisi Omorogbe, Ph.D.
By my 13th birthday, I was fixed on getting a doctorate in Law. I had decided to model myself on two maternal uncles I adored and admired. One of these had completed his postgraduate degree in Mathematical Statistics at the University of Cambridge - his undergraduate degree in Maths was at Imperial College London. The other was studying law at the University of Buckingham. As it had become apparent to me that my mathematical skills were limited, I chose to follow the latter. The decision seemed natural, perhaps because I had other maternal relatives in the legal profession.
Sanyu Annabelle Ndagire
I was inspired to study law by my mother, Judge Julia Sebutinde, whose career progression, work ethic, and impact on Uganda’s justice system motivated me from a young age to pursue a career in law. I also desired to contribute to justice for victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Growing up in Uganda, I heard and read too often about the plight of victims of conflict and human rights abuses in my country and across the continent. I wanted to be part of the change that would give them a voice and justice.
I always thought that law was a good way to make a positive change. It was important to me to change the laws that are clearly an affront to human rights and use the others to protect and promote human rights. I recognised this as a way to empower myself and others and I have never looked back.
Michaela Eddinia Swallow
As a mixed-raced child, I grew up wanting to break free from a certain stereotype associated with mixed-race children. I never wanted to be part of that labeling: beauty without brains. At a tender age, I fantasized of being a children’s doctor, caring for babies. However, an encounter with injustice taught me how seriously the law and access to justice can change lives. Consequently, studying law became that golden key to open the door of the legal profession for me, break the labeling, fight injustice and serve as an inspiration to many young mixed-raced women and children trapped in poverty.
Law was not my first career option. I wanted to study political science with the aim of becoming a diplomat. Fortunately things did not work out the way I envisaged and I soon found myself enrolled as an LL.B student. It was only in my second year when I was introduced to Public and Constitutional law and learned about Human Rights when I begun to immerse myself in it. I chose that area of the law as my area of specialization. Today I am an internationally recognized human rights activist with a strong focus on socio-economic rights, democracy and governance.
Marjorie Bwalya Musonda Mpundu
I originally planned on following my parents’ footsteps and becoming a teacher. While at university I was inspired by a female law professor who stood out in a profession that was predominantly male. I realized that I could use the law to fight for the rights of girls and to fight poverty.
I have always had a certain level of familiarity with the legal profession as one of my parents is a law professor. From a very young age, I was fortunate enough to have a front row seat to observing how individuals in the legal profession were using their expertise to influence and effect change within their professions and their communities as well as at a national or global level. Consequently, to me, the law seemed to be one of the most effective paths to becoming involved in and having an impact on some of the issues and causes that I am most passionate about, whilst pursuing a career in which I would remain intellectually engaged and challenged through exposure to the intellectually and conceptually challenging issues presented by the demands of the legal profession.
I started my career in the finance industry, and continued as a capital markets lawyer, which has empowered me, through the advice I provide on securities transactions, to become directly involved in the mobilization of significant amounts of resources raised in the international and domestic capital markets for sovereigns and public or private entities and institutions, enabling me to contribute to the flow of investments into and within various countries, and to indirectly have an impact on local economies, industries and communities within those markets. This has always been in alignment with my interest in seeing increased flows of investments into countries and regions in need of capital to address the development-related challenges faced by populations in those countries.
Ntombizozuko Dyani-Mhango, Ph.D.
I remember my grade 6 teacher asked us what we wanted to be when we grow up and I said I wanted to be an advocate so that I can help my people. My teacher was not very encouraging as he reminded us that we might not become what we wanted to be. He was cautious because this was during the height of apartheid in South Africa. Indeed, I was admitted as an Advocate of the High Court of South Africa years later, though I have never practised law because I chose the route of legal academia.
I do not recall there being a particular moment when I decided that I wanted to be a lawyer. For as long as I can remember, I was drawn to the idea of being an advocate, promoting justice and being able to use my oral and written words to persuade. In addition, growing up a mere twenty minutes from the South African border, during that country’s transition from Apartheid to a multi-racial democracy, had a deep impact on my worldview and I was intrigued by the role that lawyers could play to right those wrongs.
Growing up in rural areas the societal hierarchy was clear. Even as a young girl I knew that I did not like my place in that hierarchy. No one said anything about the position of woman but I could see it in my home, in my community, in family gatherings or school meetings. I did not like my place in that hierarchy. It was important for me to find a way to challenge that hierarchy. I always thought of education as an instrument for empowerment. I did not know any lawyer growing up nor did I know what work lawyers do. However, people spoke highly of lawyers. I thought that if I was to be respected like that I would not be subjected to the treatment endured by woman in my village. I would be allowed to have an opinion and a voice in my community. If I had a voice I could use it not just for me but for all woman to challenge our place in society.
My secondary school teacher told me, after reading my essays, that I had what it took to become a lawyer so when I was faced with the choice between reading law or business administration at the University, I chose law.
Nchimunya D. Ndulo
I had exposure to the law growing up with family members in the profession. During my undergraduate studies, I found myself interested in the legal issues in my social sciences coursework. I recall in my law school application, I mentioned that I wanted to be able to help others build capacity and advise them on how to better negotiate and advocate for their positions, especially in the international development space. I came pretty close to that in practice. Now, as a lawyer, I like the intellectual challenge posed by the law, the range of issues and the different sides and arguments to different issues. But overall, I like the tool that the law presents for people, by knowing its limitations and the possibilities it presents, to help put themselves in a better position, whether through negotiating a fairer contract, litigating a claim, or advocating for change.