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Siviwe Mcetywa

Current Job: 
Candidate Attorney at Norton Rose Fulbright
Faculty: 
Don’t be afraid to take the road less travelled.

About your current job:

How did you obtain your current position?

I participated in Norton Rose Fulbright’s vacation programme for law students in June 2012 and found it to be a stimulating experience. Following the programme, I was offered the opportunity to complete my articles of clerkship with the firm. I accepted.

In what way does your qualification relate to your work, whether directly or indirectly?

I am a candidate attorney. The LLB is a prerequisite for completing articles at the firm.

What are the key skills that have contributed to your success thus far?

Communication skills; interpersonal skills; commercial acumen.

What are your day-to-day activities?

I am part of the litigation team in the Cape Town office. I have worked specifically in the commercial litigation field dealing with matters concerning contractual disputes arising out of engineering, procurement and construction contracts.  As a candidate attorney, I assist by facilitating the running of the litigation, including drafting pleadings, correspondence and conducting court processes. I have also worked in the insurance litigation team where I assisted in matters involving liability and professional indemnity claims.

What are the best and most challenging parts of your job?

The best part of my job is that no two days are ever the same. I learn something new and broaden my skills set every day. This is also the challenging part of the job. New situations will always arise which require you to apply yourself in a way that you did not previously anticipate.

 

About your time at UCT:

How did your extra-curricular involvement while at UCT add value (transferable skills) to what you offer the world of work/your degree?

At UCT I acquired the legal knowledge that forms the foundation of my day–to-day activities in the work environment. There is a big difference between studying and practising the law and the two require very different skills sets. UCT gave me the foundation that I needed to transfer academic legal knowledge to practical working skills.

 

For those working/living abroad:

What are your key lessons on being successful when living and/or working abroad?

As part of my experience as a candidate attorney, I will be seconded to Norton Rose Fulbright's London office this year for a six month period. I was offered this opportunity through the firm’s International Seat Program for candidate attorneys which is one of the advantages of working in an international law firm. I am excited to have the opportunity to practice commercial law in one of the world’s leading financial centres and have no doubt that this will be an amazing learning experience.

 

Advice to current students:

How best should students use their time at university to give themselves a competitive edge in your field?

My advice would be for students to get as much practical work experience as possible. Get involved in the vacation programmes offered by various firms and organisations. This will give you better insight into what you would ultimately like to do with your law degree and a competitive edge in interviews.

In retrospect, what advice can you give to students about how to approach their own career development journeys?

Don’t be afraid to take the road less travelled. Often, we are pushed in a particular direction because that’s what everyone is doing or there is a perception about what “successful” law students should be doing after law school. Don’t be afraid to do something different if that’s what you want to do.

Do you have any advice for a new graduate entering the world of work?

Maintain your individuality and be open to learning new things.