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Taking the legal route to empower

Inspired by her grandmother who was an avid entrepreneur, legal eagle Tumelo Modise has followed in those footsteps. Through her law firm Tumelo Attorneys Inc, Tumelo is giving life to a lifelong dream, that of being an entrepreneur herself. She also founded Faith Law Consultancy, an empowerment platform with a special goal of contributing to the development of the legal community through network engagements, legal coaching and mentoring. Our writer Bianca Mashao catches up her on her business ventures.

Founder of Tumelo Attorneys

For this formidable leader entrepreneurship is in the blood, having experienced it while baking, sewing, and running successful businesses in her early adult years.

IWM: Please briefly tell us about yourself and where you are from?

TM: My name is Tumelo Modise, I was born and raised in Bloemfontein Free State, I am a mother to two teenagers whom I adore. I am an admitted attorney of the High Court and currently practice law for my own account as the Director at Tumelo Attorneys Incorporated. I am passionate about legal service and seeing justice prevail.

IWM: Tell us about your business?

TM: Tumelo Attorneys Incorporated is a law firm which based in the business hub of Bloemfontein. We pride ourselves with our values based on our African principle of Ubuntu as we provide legal service to clients from all walks of life.

IWM: What has inspired your entrepreneurial journey?

TM: My interest in law was sparked when I was very young and in primary school. I witnessed my father suffering injustice due to a motor vehicle accident that left him without a car and in debt for many years due to gross injustice simply because my father did not have financial means to access justice against a wealthy influential wrongdoer. For years I saw the pain in my father’s eyes that whole experience stirred my passion for justice. As I grew older it became clearer to me that the law regulates practically all human conduct, but most people either misunderstood or feared the law. It was my conviction to learn more about the law and one day be in a position to share my knowledge with others and make legal service more accessible to those who are most deprived of justice. And then the desire to have my own law firm arose.

IWM: What are some of the challenges you have faced since you started your own law firm as a business?

TM: Unlike any other business the law firm is a business within a regulated professional environment, as such you must balance compliance with providing legal service, whilst you also manage the business side which requires securing the business, maintaining networks with relevant stakeholders, managing client relationships, and managing the office and personnel, amongst other factors. My entrepreneurial passion together with my extensive corporate background and the year of experience of leading the Free State office of the regulator of Attorneys and Advocates as a Director have assisted me a lot in persevering through the challenges of starting Tumelo Attorneys Inc. as my own law firm as a business.

IWM: Tell us about some of the leadership roles you have held?

TM: I believe I was born a leader, because for as long as I can remember leadership has come naturally to me. I became a student leader and activist in student politics and even represented South African students on an international platform, I was a member of the leadership of the exclusive golden key society for top academic achieving students when I studied Law at the University of Free State. Interestingly, leadership has followed me through because I was CEO of the Free State Law Society and then Director of the Free State Legal Practice Council. I am currently Founding Director of Tumelo Attorneys Inc. and Faith Law Consultancy PTY LTD, and I am the Chairperson of the Free State South African Women Lawyers association which is an association that advances the interests of women in the legal profession but also engages in philanthropic activities within our communities.

IWM: What does it mean to you being a black woman in leadership within a male dominated industry?

TM: Despite the 100th anniversary of the Women Legal Practice Act in 1923, women remain in the minority in the male-dominated profession of law. It is therefore crucial for women to continue practicing law to develop the profession, legislation and society for themselves and future generations. By taking bold steps to remain true to their nature and being understood and accepted, women can overcome gender-based violence and femicide, leading to change in their careers and societal advancement. The economy of our country and the world needs women’s unique abilities, skills, and talents to address the challenges we face today.

As I grew older it became clearer to me that the law regulates practically all human conduct, but most people either misunderstood or feared the law.

IWM: What kind of impact would you like to make through your business?

TM: One of our values at Tumelo Attorneys Inc. is humanity, we take personalised quality services for our clients quiet seriously. The impact I would like to make is that of ensuring that the previously marginalised people of our country gain access to justice, in the true sense of legal service which recognises them as clients worthy of quality service and affords them transparency and fair legal costs.

IWM: What has been the highlight since you started your business?

TM: There have been so many! But I would say being afforded the platform to provide legal enlightenment to members of the community on local and national radio stations due to recognition of my passion for serving members of the public is one of my favourite highlights along with having clients that always come back for more legal matters.

IWM: You are also the founder of Faith Law Consultancy, how is that going?

TM: Faith Law Consultancy is a private company still at its inception, with an aim of making a contribution to the development of the legal community through network engagements, legal coaching and mentoring, recruitment and projects, as well as an impactful and empowering means of reaching out to the general community in need of legal accessibility. We hosted various events under Faith Law Consultancy, one of which was sponsored by one of the banks and numerous local businesses. I believe that while we are lawyers by profession, we are first human beings. My objective in this regard is based on hope of inspiring others, and highlighting paths in which other legal practitioners, businesses and individuals may become involved in making a positive difference.

IWM: What advice do you have for fellow aspiring women who want to start a business?

TM: Go for it! It is the most challenging yet liberating experience of realising your full potential.



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Editor's note

American novelist Louisa May Alcott said it best when she said “Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”

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