Career Interview: Chenai the Legal Secretary

Many times when speaking to recent graduates or even those at school, you find that they misuse a lot of their time by just sitting and waiting for the "next thing". If you have a dream, work for it! Do volunteer work, do internships, look for alternative paths when your first plan doesn't work out. We talked to one such lady who is working out her dream aggressively! 

Where do you currently work?

I work at Zimasco (Private) Limited, Harare, Zimbabwe as a Legal Assistant. I also do part-time voluntary work at Justice for Children Trust also based in Harare, Zimbabwe.

What does your Company do?

Zimasco is a mining and smelting Company. It mines chrome ore along the Great Dyke and smelts or processes it to produce alloy. The product is then exported to overseas markets, mainly China and United Sattes of America. Alloy is used as a raw material in the production of stainless steel products, amongst others.

Tell us a little bit about your career history?

During my 2nd year University Semester break I interned at NMB Bank Limited in the Company Secretary’s Office for a couple of months, it was from there that I developed a passion for corporate practise. I also interned at Marondera Magistrates Court Civil Division. After completing my tertiary education in 2009 I worked as a Law Officer at Legal Aid which was a Government Department which provided legal services to the underprivileged at nominal fees. I then moved to private practise and joined Honey & Blankernberg Legal Practitioners as a Professional Assistant under the Patents and Trademarks section. In 2011 I moved to Zimasco, where I am still currently employed.

Was this always your dream career or it changed somewhere along the line?

Being a lawyer was always my dream and passion. From an early age of about 5 or 6 I would watch court dramas, and there is one in particular which ignited my passion for law. I recall that it centred around a female lawyer, who of course never lost a case. I admired her charisma, intelligence, tact and how she commanded respect. I also admired her perfect tailored outfits and told myself that would be me someday.

How closely does your academic education fit in with your job?

My academic education is very relevant to my job.

What qualifications do you hold?

Bachelor of Laws Honours Degree

In short what educational path got you where you are? Could you have made the path shorter?

After my “O” Levels I chose Arts subjects for my “A” Levels, namely History, Divinity and Geography. Because of the stringent requirements for studying a Bachelor of Laws Degree at the University of Zimbabwe, which was then the only institution offering that programme, I studying via correspondence with the University of South Africa. The programme was for four years.  Generally I could not have made the path shorter.

What are the tasks that you do regularly in your profession?

  • Drafting and reviewing contracts
  • Giving legal advice to Management and staff
  • Liaising with external lawyers in criminal, civil and labour matters
  • Minuting meetings

What bits do you find boring in your daily tasks?

Administrative work. I do not like writing process notes and reports but unfortunately this a very crucial part of my job.

Any advice to those studying or aiming at this job or career?

You have to love and be comfortable with working with disadvantaged people for you to be an effective social worker. It’s a job where you do anything and everything. People call us Jacks of all trades but masters of none. You need to be able to connect with various clients so that they are comfortable working with you.