AMANDLA! WOMEN TO WATCH EDITION
Jennifer Abena Dadzie
Justice of the Court of Appeal, Ghana
Why did you decide to study law?
Honestly, it was never my dream to become a lawyer. However, growing up, my father always stated how afraid he was of my “loud mouth,” seeing how I exhibited, as a child, such fierce attributes of justice and fairness when interacting with my siblings. He regularly advocated that I would make a fine lawyer one day, but my desire was in architecture. Unfortunately, I was not admitted to read architecture at the university, so I had to settle for my next best option, law. In hindsight, it turned out to be the best decision I made regarding my career path.
What is your proudest professional moment thus far?
Out of several proud moments, from being the best student at both the Faculty of Law and the Ghana School of Law to being elevated to the Court of Appeal, I would choose the day four of my High Court judgments were reported in one volume of the Ghana Law Reports.
Looking back, what is one decision/action you would have done differently?
To have joined the bench much earlier than I did, considering how much joy and fulfillment I have found in the work of dispute resolution.
Share some major professional challenges you have faced, or continue to face as a woman in law.
As a woman who has chosen to combine my profession with family life, there have been numerous challenges that I had to overcome. Throughout the years, notably, it has been challenging to find flexible working arrangements that lend themselves easily to pursuing my family responsibilities without impeding my career growth in my chosen profession; this would include having to give up pursuing some professional opportunities like international appointments. It has also not been easy to find mentorship opportunities to assist me in advancing into leadership positions in the legal industry as a woman in law.
What are some practical strategies for survival in the legal profession?
One strategy I have learnt is to have strong mentors who can guide, correct and inspire you to attain your potential. The glass ceiling has already been shattered for women in most workplaces. While sweeping away the shards, look out for mentors who share your dream and passion. Spend quality time and engage in efficient communication with these mentors to ensure their involvement in your life is impactful.
Be sure to own the skill set that will help develop your career. Effective time management, smart and effective research skills and tools cannot be overemphasized. In these days of information technological advancement, a professional woman must be seen to keep pace with the effect of technology on her work regardless of the nature of her profession. Effective communication and maintaining excellent interpersonal relationships with your peers and the general public are also invaluable skills to possess.