‘The University of KwaZulu Natal provides, in many ways, a platform for one to discover their niche. While you study towards your career of choice, there is necessary support and exposure along the way.’
So said Ms Pearl Biyela, a 25-year-old lawyer and Commercial Mediator. She currently works as a Candidate Attorney at Tomlinson Mnguni James Attorneys and is awaiting admission as an Attorney of the High Court of South Africa.
Biyela graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree in 2018. During her undergraduate years she became involved in various partisan and non-partisan organisations and seized every opportunity to find practical applications for her studies.
‘It can never be underestimated how integral practical exposure is to the practice of law. The UKZN curriculum and structure of its courses allows for this fundamental skill to be instilled in persons pursing the LLB degree. The university recognises this by exposing students to the internal moot court, the law clinic, and gives them the option of choosing organisations to join within the university – all of this sharpens practical skills.’
‘I grabbed, with both hands, all of the aforesaid options in order to expose myself to varied experiences and prepare myself to practice law, beyond the knowledge of theory,’ said Biyela.
Her biggest highlight was becoming the first woman to be appointed national president of the Black Lawyers’ Association Student Chapter (BLAsc) in 2016.
‘I was very honoured to be entrusted with the role of president and to lead the intellectuals making up the chapter’s members. Being a woman, I wanted to use my term to encourage other women not to shy away from leadership, encouraging them rather to embrace such positions and to drive the change they want to see,’ said Biyela.
She was recently honoured to be among top five women within the Black Lawyers’ Association to hold some of the most senior positions in the legal profession at a national level.
She has been invited to address young people on various platforms (radio, church, schools, and conferences), in particular young women in leadership and she also continues to lead various organisations within Southern Africa.
Biyela is not only gifted in the courtroom … she is also a vocalist and has worked in various gospel projects and has participated in live recordings such as ‘Songs and Psalms’ by Swazi Dlamini, the ‘Crown Gospel Awards Choir’, ‘Gospel Goes Classical’ and, most recently, as a backing vocalist for Keneiloe Hope, to name a few.
She is currently reading towards a Master of Laws (LLM). Her research focuses on corporate governance in state-owned enterprises against the backdrop of international standards of practice.