KZN Law Society’s first woman president ‘not afraid of challenges’

2008-02-14 00:00

The first woman to be appointed president of the KwaZulu-Natal Law Society, Pietermaritzburg attorney Thoba Poyo Dlwati, is not afraid of the challenges ahead of her.

“Challenges are not new to me, as it was a challenge to move to the city of Pietermaritzburg from the rural areas of the Transkei some 12 years ago. Among other things, I probably have to prove that women, like men, can be successful in these positions,”

Poyo Dlwati says she enjoys the support of her colleagues and the Black Lawyers’ Association (BLA), which supported her throughout her career.

“It is through the BLA that I have managed to get the opportunity to head the profession in KZN and … I am grateful,” she said.

She hopes that the legal profession will become “truly transformed” by the finalisation of the Legal Services Charter and the Legal Practice Bill during her term of office, and says she would like to see attorneys rendering more pro bono services to the “poorest and needy members of our community”.

“The society has to ensure that this is possible by appointing someone dedicated to deal with this much needed service.”

Poyo Dlwati also wants to eradicate a perception that the Law Society is “out to get” its members. “The irony of this, of course, is that while some attorneys believe that the Law Society is a persecutor, members of the public on the other hand see it as a body that protects its own. The truth of the matter is that the Law Society is a regulatory body and has to ensure that its members adhere to the rules.

“It also has to service its members and in that way, has a dual function.”

Poyo Dlwati says she will encourage older women to mentor younger women in the profession “so that the male dominated environment can diminish”.

“In that way we will have more female judges. I also encourage women to take up leadership positions so that our society can be balanced in all respects.”

Poyo Dlwati attended Mount Arthur Girls’ High School in Lady Frere and matriculated in 1991. She studied law at the University of Transkei and did a post graduate diploma in taxation at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg.

After completing her articles of clerkship her legal career commenced in February 1999, when she was admitted as an attorney and conveyancer with the law firm Hoskins & Ngcobo, now Ngcobo, Poyo & Diedericks Inc.

Apart from her involvement as a council member and vice-president of the KZN Law Society, Poyo Dlwati was chairwoman of the BLA in Pietermaritzburg between 2003 and 2005 and served as chairwoman of the Gender Committee of the Law Society of South Africa and the KZN Law Society from March 2003 to date.

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