When Ntokozo Arnold Mbeje graduated with his law degree cum laude in 2017, he was serving his articles at Adams & Adams and looking forward to bigger and better things. Three years later, Mbeje is an associate specialising in commercial drafting and litigation at Cox Yeats Attorneys.
‘On the commercial drafting side, I draft and review agreements, trust deeds, memoranda of incorporation, resolutions and other ancillary documents. On the litigation side, I do legal research, advise clients on their prospects of success, draft court papers, brief counsel (advocates) and prepare clients’ matters for court,’ said Mbeje.
His initial career choice was to become an astronaut, as walking on the moon is definitely more exhilarating than being a lawyer, but he said choosing to study law at UKZN turned out to be the best decision he has made.
‘My mother was the main driving force in my decision to attend law school,’ he said.
‘I grew up in KwaMakhutha, a relatively small township in Amanzimtoti and did not meet an attorney until I was in my second year at university. So, outside of movies, TV series, and my mother’s glowing recommendation of the profession, I had no point of reference as to what an attorney actually did. However, my curiosity led me to UKZN’s School of Law (in Pietermaritzburg) and the rest, as they say, is history.’
What started out as academic curiosity has shaped up into an impressive and varied legal career for Mbeje. As an attorney he has gained skills in a number of areas of law including corporate and commercial litigation, tax, as well as investment fund formation. Looking back to his university experience, he attributes his success to a combination of being passionate about his studies, getting involved in clubs and societies, and playing sports.
‘Some of my law lecturers had prior experience as attorneys and they would impart practical examples when teaching on various subjects. For instance, my civil procedure lecturer was an admitted attorney who would provide us with court papers, which he had previously worked on when he was in practice. My clinical law lecturer was and still is a practicing attorney. This brought a certain realism that complimented the academic aspects of our studies,’ said Mbeje.
On the extracurricular front, Mbeje joined the debate team for Students for Law and Social Justice (SLSJ) during his first year and ended up heading it the following year. He was also an active member of the Students’ Sports Council, as a general secretary for basketball and a manager for touch rugby.
‘UKZN as a whole provided me with a unique growth experience. I constantly found myself in the offices of my lecturers and members of the SRC [Students Representative Council], discussing a variety of topics ranging from politics to philosophy and current affairs. Then, during the penultimate year of my studies, a couple of my classmates and I formed the Black Lawyers’ Association Student Chapter (BLAsc PMB) for the Pietermaritzburg campus. This was one of my highest university achievements because I became part of something bigger than me, and seeing how much the BLAsc PMB has grown since then still gives me a sense of pride,’ he said.
Thandi Jumo is a Journalist and Public Relations Officer at UKZN’s College of Law and Management Studies. Her 12-year journalism career in journalism includes writing for the Daily News and its Tonight Entertainment Section as well as the Witness where she specialised in education and entertainment. She expanded her career from journalism to PR when she joined UKZN in 2012 and currently generates content for the University’s publications and the College’s Facebook page.