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Leah Molatseli

Head of Business Development, Legal Interact

Why did you decide to study law?

As the only child in my family, I mostly spent my time on music, books and TV shows. At a very young age, I became an instant fan of two legal drama series, Ally McBeal and The Practice, and that opened me up to the legal industry. And from then, I made it my mission to fit into the criteria of what a "lawyer" should look like, for instance, taking on leadership roles and participating in Public Speaking activities. It was only in university while studying law that I realized why this mattered, especially in a country where people who look like me often don't effectively access justice.

What is your proudest professional moment thus far?

It must have been breaking out of the traditional legal industry mold and finding ways to create impact through venturing into legal innovation and legal technology so that people could easily access justice.

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Looking back, what is one decision/action you would have done differently?

When I left my final role as a practicing lawyer and left a corporate firm, I was young, driven by passion and resigned before I had a solid plan. I had no savings and went out to start my legal tech start-up. Sometimes I wish I should have waited, planned, and strategized adequately.

Share some major professional challenges you have faced, or continue to face as a woman in law.

One of the biggest challenges I faced was being constantly undermined simply because of my age. Due to the profession and the spaces we are in, it often comes in nuances and subtle undertones in how you are either given a project or not. I constantly push myself and over-achieve to remind people of my experience and expertise. It is even trickier now in the legal technology industry, considering being a female founder and lack of sufficient funding, but it is less aggressive than the traditional legal industry. Nonetheless, we keep moving. I do not allow myself to dwell on the challenges, but I rise above them for myself and those who come after us.

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What are some practical strategies for survival in the legal profession?

A couple of strategies I have learned along the way include: building your community. You can bypass harrowing experiences simply by surrounding yourself with people who have been there before you. This doesn't necessarily mean your mentor, but it can be professionals on social media. It's time to look at your social media feeds. Whom are you following? Do you get inspired when you are online? Do you learn something new that can help you?

The other strategy is taking ownership of your growth. No one will save you, and no one will make it their mission to make you better, especially if you do not "come to the party." Take stock of your skillset and network at any given a chance and ensure you are primed for growth.

Lastly, never be arrogant enough to think you know everything–take in every opportunity for growth and empower yourself.

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