At age 23, advocate Sinomtha Linda had achieved what most of her peers could only dream of, and that was just the beginning . . .
She finished her Masters degree at 22 and just one year later Sinomtha Linda became the youngest black advocate to be admitted to the bar. In the same year she opened her own law practice, which she says was just another way to challenge herself.
Now 31, Linda says she has her mother, Dr Nolitha Vukuza, to thank for her achievements, as she always emphasised the importance of education.
Dr Vukuza, who is now based in Paris, France, and is the representative of the South African Department of Higher Education and Training at UNESCO, not only pushed her children to do well at school, but led by example, continuing to study and push the boundaries in her own career.
“It was through her that my brother and I have learnt the importance and value of education, hard work, determination, self belief and daring to push the envelope. She played an important role in the realisation of my dreams and goals, which included supporting and enabling me to further my studies after my undergrad degree,” she says.
Linda adds that her mother went even further and supported her while she completed her legal training.
“She allowed me to undertake pupillage, which is a year of vigorous legal training (without an income) for admission to the Bar Council of Advocates. Of course this was after I passed my Bar exam,” she says.
Linda adds that to this day her mother is still acquiring knowledge, and just last year graduated with her PhD.
“That kind of zest for accomplishment, both personal and professional, keeps me on my toes. She is my example of someone who has invested immensely in her self-development. I have witnessed her journey of self-discovery, self-mastery and ultimately self-actualisation,” she says in praise of her mother.
Born in the township of Mdantsane in the Eastern Cape, Linda grew up in Mthatha and initially had no intention of becoming a law practitioner. It may surprise many to learn that she actually wanted to be a kwaito dancer!
She laughs when she recalls how she would have done anything to become a dancer at that time. But her mother would not have it; no daughter of hers was going to be a dancer! While her mother was a staunch believer in the importance of education, it was also her late school principal, Principal Drake, who nurtured her love of learning.
Outspoken from a young age, Linda says it became apparent in primary school that she was destined to become a lawyer.
She says the dream to become a lawyer was cemented by her adoration for her uncle, Chris Bodlani, who was a lawyer. The respect he earned in the family because of his career motivated Linda even more.
All these pictures that I had envisioned for myself were a culmination of a yearning to one day appear in the law reports – so that I too, could have the honour of my peers referring to a case I argued to advance their case on that particular issue
You would think that being accepted to the Bar Council at the age of 23, and becoming the youngest black woman to achieve this would have satisfied Linda. But this would never be enough for this over achiever.
Already discovering the challenges of being part of the Bar Council, Linda says starting her own practice was difficult, but something she was more than happy to take on.
“Besides seeking to challenge myself, it was my vision. I wanted to be involved with the substance of the law, the less administrative side of it. The concept of litigation and imagining myself addressing a judge in court had always appealed to me, including the idea of being robed (wearing an Advocates’ court uniform).
“But ultimately, all these pictures I had envisioned for myself were a culmination of a yearning to one day appear in the law reports – so that I too, could have the honour of my peers referring to a case I argued to advance their case on that particular issue,” says The Group 21 Advocate attorney.
But getting her practice off the ground proved more difficult than she anticipated. Because she was new to the legal fraternity she had no leverage over her peers, as she did not have the necessary business contacts that are required to get started. But this did not discourage her. Linda had to adapt to the fast-paced and mature work environment she found herself in.
“I say mature work environment because not only was the average age of my colleagues, at least twice my own age (and more), but this was also the case in respect of the clients I represented, which I found to be a tad daunting initially,” she says.
While she admits encountering some challenges in her career, Linda is quick to add that the highlights completely outweigh the difficulties she has faced. In the coming years she hopes to build her practice and also grow in her career as an advocate.
“It was always my plan to pursue a Doctorate of Laws (LLD) and I anticipate that I will be taking it on in the next three years or so. But before then and in the near future, I aim to take a course within the commerce and management fields,” she concludes.
Labels: Dr Nolitha Vukuza, Sinomtha Linda, The Group 21