AMANDLA! WOMEN TO WATCH EDITION
Nania Owusu-Ankomah Sackey
Partner, Bentsi-Enchill, Letsa & Ankomah, Ghana
Why did you decide to study law?
Actually, I never made a decision to study law. I simply grew up knowing that I wanted to be a lawyer, because that’s what my mother imbibed in me while growing up. Although my father is a lawyer, it was the tremendous influence of my mother that made me join the legal profession. That says a lot about the significant influence women can yield over their children and has taught me to be more intentional with the way I raise mine. My mother has raised three lawyers and is married to one, and that is no mean feat.
What is your proudest professional moment thus far?
When I found the courage, at a very critical stage in my career, to pursue an international secondment with the international arbitration practice group of a top London firm. This decision came at a great personal and professional cost. However, the experience and contribution to my professional development was priceless.
Looking back, what is one decision/action you would have done differently?
Waiting too long to shine. Occupy and shine in your space without fear. You do the world a disservice if you hide your lustre.
Share some major professional challenges you have faced, or continue to face as a woman in law.
My greatest professional challenge is TIME. The law is a jealous lover, requiring you to invest a lot of time into your work. This can be very difficult if you have a family, and particularly acute if you are also married to another lawyer. It is impossible to become good at what you do without the time investment, but I’ve also grown to learn that finding ways to achieve a balance with family commitments ultimately makes you a better and more well-rounded professional. You have to be self-disciplined, resilient and also maximise your time during your peak working hours and be truly present during those times you spend with the family.
What are some practical strategies for survival in the legal profession?
I’ll recommend three strategies:
1. Find an area of law that you love and focus on it. It will make working easier and more enjoyable, while at the same time allow you to build in-depth knowledge and specialization in that field. You can then become the focal point in your organization in matters relating to that area and also build a brand within the profession around that knowledge.
2. Be visible. People will only give you work if they know you, trust you and like you. You can only be known, trusted and liked when you are visible. It is simply not enough to be talented or to do great work; others must know about it.
3. Play up to your strengths. It is important to identify what your strengths are, hone them, capitalize on them, and then find ways to monetize those strengths/ specific talents to advance your career.