Property law is an exciting field of study, as candidate attorney, Lauren Niekerk from Marlon Shevelew & Associates Inc, has found out.
Niekerk joined the firm in August 2019 and recently completed her articles of clerkship. She will be admitted as an attorney of the High Court of South Africa in September 2021.
“I have always had an interest in law and wanted to be in a profession where I could help others. I feel that property law is arguably the most relatable area of law, as it affects every individual in society in some way.”
Her interest in property law grew over time since the start of her articles, due to the exposure she gained from working on different cases.
Niekerk says it’s fulfilling to receive positive feedback from clients once a matter has been completed. Although she is not fond of certain admin tasks at times, she says this is a necessary part of the work, and that one should always make time to be organised.
Barriers to entry and education
“ Law is traditionally a white, and male-dominated field, and to a large extent this is still the case in South Africa, hence there are not too many women pursuing it as a career.”
However, those with a higher standing academically are at an advantage and arguably, this makes it easier for them to stand out to law firms that are looking for new entrants/candidates, she points out.
Niekerk adds: “It is inspiring to see greater representation of women and people of colour in the legal profession. I believe more diversity should be encouraged.”
Niekerk graduated from the University of Cape Town in 2017 with a Bachelor of Law degree (with electives in Historical Studies and French).
Her academic awards include the Dean’s Merit List and an Anne Pillay Full Law Scholarship.
Prior to joining Marlon Shevelew & Associates Inc, she was a legal analyst at Cognia Law, and a legal intern at Smith Tabata Buchanan Boyes.
In her current role, she works under the supervision of a qualified attorney and is gaining practical work experience.
She explains that she finds that litigation is a challenging, fast-paced and unpredictable area of law. As a result, she constantly has to think on her feet in a high-pressure environment.
Niekerk’s duties and tasks differ every day, depending on new cases. Generally, she says tasks involve a combination of drafting necessary correspondence and pleadings, consulting with and advising clients, file management, research, attending court with senior attorneys and counsel, and other varied administrative duties.
“Marlon Shevelew & Associates Inc specialises in property law, and so a lot of work is related to rental and commercial property law disputes.”
The multi-award-winning firm, Marlon Shevelew & Associates, was recently named the Global Law Experts: Best Rental Property Law Firm of the Year in South Africa (2021). Other awards over the years include Commercial rental property lawyer of the year: International advisory experts and Finance monthly legal awards for best consumer law firm.
On the global pandemic, she says Covid-19 has completely changed the way court processes and timelines run.
As a result, there are sometimes delays outside of their control as legal practitioners.
In order to mitigate this in the best possible way, they attend court regularly and have ensured that they are fully updated of the new way court processes run (and also continually stay up to date in case the rules change) and then relay this to client.
“Knowledge is power, and we’ve had to learn to adapt fast to the new normal. It is best to be open and transparent with clients as much as possible and keep them informed by way of updates as matters progress,” says Niekerk.
Furthermore, she says Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on people’s lives and businesses. Many people have lost their jobs, thus causing an increase in rental collections and evictions.
“I foresee this lasting for quite a while, as the impact has been significant and the economy will take time to recover,” adds Niekerk.
Edited by Gudrun Kaiser