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Article by listed attorney: Fawzia Khan

October 2015 marks 25 years since I was admitted as an attorney. It’s hard to believe how quickly time flies. As I started my practice during the dark days of apartheid, there were a few instances where I encountered discriminatory behaviour from my colleagues including some judicial officers, but thankfully this was the exception rather than the norm.

Whilst practising as a lawyer for the past 25 years has taught me many lessons and has made me a better and stronger person. Law and especially litigation means we have to interact closely with others.  As a “people person”, I derive great satisfaction in helping find workable solutions to a problem. I keep up to date with what is happening in the law both in terms of recent case law, as well as changes in legislation. This I find often gives me the edge. A litigation practitioner must be able to engage with one’s opponents in a robust manner, and I am certainly not one to shy away from taking the aggressive and hard-lined stance when circumstances dictate. The trick however is to ensure that you always have the client’s best interests at all times and not to allow any sparring between colleagues to become a personal ego issue.  I believe that your ability to stand out and be successful in your profession is not based on whether you are male or female, black or white, come from a big name law firm or smaller practice. My aim is to deliver a product to my client that can be up held up to the scrutiny of the courts. That means it’s crucial that I do sufficient research on the matter so that I am properly equipped with the technical skills and tools to handle the case. It’s extremely gratifying to me that I have clients with whom I’ve maintained a professional relationship for the duration of my practice. Relationship building is the foundation to retaining your client. But often it takes years before a really close professional relationship can emerge. I have found that no matter how “nice” a person you may be, if you’re are lacking on the “delivery scorecard”, that client will not remain with you for long. Of course, “winning” and “justice” are relative concepts, and as a lawyer I try to find out what result the client wants, and at what cost. It’s my job to look at all the options in a case and then offer the possible solutions, strategies and workable outcomes for the client. Allowing a client the ability to make an informed choice, after he has been given the pros and cons of all the options available to him, makes for a satisfied client.

Much of my practice involves civil litigation and commercial law. We also do a fair amount of non-litigious work as well, from drafting commercial contracts, notarising documents, executing Ante-Nuptial Contracts, conveyancing of immovable property & winding up deceased estates. A large percentage of the litigation focuses on divorce. Divorce is an intensely emotional experience. As a mother of three children myself, I understand the demands that raising a family can bring and ensure that where children are involved in a divorce, that their best interests are always put first.

I have found that not only is it important to have the technical skill and legal knowledge, it’s equally important to be able to offer advice an empathetic nature and a “good listening ear”. My aim always is to be able to retain my existing clients whilst being able to reach out to new ones. It’s crucial that as the attorney I am able to offer some professional detachment to the matter I am dealing with so. As an attorney you want to avoid becoming so totally immersed in the matter where you could lose your objectivity and get a false sense of reality. The attorney should be someone with whom you can trust to have your best interests at heart at all times.

As part of the celebrations marking 25 years in law, Fawzia Khan & Associates are offering a special rate of R450,00 for a 30 minute consultation. The offer expires on 20 November 2015. Call 031-5025670 for further details.