After graduating from law school and becoming an attorney, Shathani Somolekae wished she would have had assistance during her journey. This then inspired her to help other law students in need of the guidance she never received.
Shathani founded a Facebook community titled ‘How to Survive Law School’ (HTSLaws) where she mentors other young Lawyers. With her been-there-done-that and tutorials, she shares her experiences as a law student and provides advice on different things that law students would experience.
Although tailored to Botswana’s legal system, the principles and lessons are essential to any law student. Shathani’s story is that of a young woman with the desire to blaze the trail, do what has never been done and make an impact in society.
What inspired you to go into law?
Numerous events, people, and experiences have inspired my legal career. I was firstly inspired by my mother who studied law at the University of Botswana and went on to become a Magistrate.
I was fascinated by her tales of being a lawyer and the different cases she handled such as theft, assault, and abortions. When her colleagues came over for meals, they would also feed into my curiosity with their tales. From then, I knew I wanted to become a litigation lawyer and enjoy its unpredictable nature.
My hero’s also inspired me to pursue law. These included Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela who all had some kind of legal background. It was clear to me that if I wanted to one-day national impact, I would need to study law to do so.
How has your life changed since the genesis of HTSLawS?
The most surprising and positive thing about the project is that it has actually deepened my passion for law and energized me in a way I never thought possible. Encouraging others to try harder, strive for more, be bold and unapologetic, has also motivated me to do the same.
On the other hand, I am now busier than before. I now have to juggle work, HTSLawS, and other personal projects. This hasn’t been easy, but my desire to make an impact has kept me going.
What challenges have you faced that are unique to your social venture and target audience?
My biggest challenge is time. I don’t have as much time as wish I had to interact with law students as I also have work clients.
Secondly, I have also witnessed different attitudes in the law students that keep them from succeeding. For example, there are law students who believe that just because they will probably not pursue a law-related career after they graduate that they should not apply themselves.
My take is that first of all, you never know where life will take you. You could also merge your degree with other extra-curricular that will give you a competitive advantage. Even if you don’t practice law, you can provide assistance as many issues are often interconnected with the law.
Ultimately the most important reason one must apply themselves. Not only is it important to finish what you started, but this also evokes confidence in knowing you are committed to complete something despite your lack of passion.
What advice would you give a law graduate on next steps to take after graduation?
My advice is, wherever you find yourself – be it in academia, government or private practice, it is often difficult but a necessary process of learning. Life and what’s expected of you will change so drastically post-graduation.
However, if you accept that you are always a student, you will be more open to learning. That eagerness and desire to be relevant and competent in your field will be the springboard to your success.
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