Picking a legal brain
Having had the privilege of being mentored by some of the sharpest legal minds in the country, Nsi Janet Pabalinga, promises to be an exact replica of her mentors.
The youthful lawyer who cut her teeth in private practice six years ago is a product of human rights lawyer, Morgan Moseki, and retired Judge- Justice John Mosojane.
In her four years under these legal giants, Pabalinga has gained invaluable lessons that she uses decisively in pursuit of justice.
The Managing Partner of Pabalinga and Associates in Francistown is a driven lady and a modern criminal lawyer.
In this candid interview, the ironically shy lawyer fields questions from Voice Reporter Kabelo Dipholo.
I was born in Francistown 34-years-ago.
I was raised by a history teacher and a nurse, a God-fearing family.
I grew up in Sua Township where I attended Sowa Primary School, thereafter I went into boarding school at Nxakato CJSS in Sua Township and completed my secondary education at Shashe River School in 2005.
I then enrolled with the University of Botswana where I completed my Bachelor of Laws in 2011.
Graduating was one of the best days of my life.
Q. Why did you choose a career in law?
I chose this career path because I developed a keen interest in the art of persuasion during my secondary school days as a debater.
I thrived as a debater and that led to a passion for law.
Take us back to your early days as an intern lawyer.
My internship began in August 2011 shortly before my graduation.
I was completely clueless about the realities of practicing law so I made a lot of mistakes, but I had very skillful and seasoned Pupil Masters.
My training began under the tutelage of Mr. Morgan Moseki of M.C.M Moseki Attorneys for one year, and three more years under the tutelage of former High Court Judge Hon. John Mosojane at Mosojane Legal Consultancy.
Q. You’re one of the youngest lawyers in the country. How are you coping in the industry?
Yes, I am, though it has not always been easy because I have to compete against big law firms which have been in operation for sometime.
Q. Why did you decide to go into private practice?
In the early years of my career, I found myself at a crossroads when I had to decide whether to look for employment or risk discovering the world of private practice and to explore it in a different way, so I chose the risk.
To answer the question, I went into private practice to grow and to challenge my worldview.
Q. When was that and how have you found it?
I started private practice in October 2015 and it has been an adventure.
Each case I have handled had its own plot twist and there was a lesson in each one of them.
I have had to develop a thick skin to remain in private practice.
Q. How much of an impact did your previous employer have on your career?
He had a massive impact and I attribute that to him having been a Judge because he trained me in the art of drafting legal arguments which is essential to any private practitioner.
Q. What would you say were the highest and lowest moments of your career?
My lowest point was having to start my own practice, with no funding, not a lot of clients and little to go on with. My highest point was realizing that my firm now has its own turnkey systems, and it can function even in my absence so that to me is quite an accomplishment.
Q. Since the covid-19 pandemic has come with a lot of challenges, how has that affected your business?
Well, it has forced us to make several changes, we now encourage emailing, teleconferencing, as result a lot of business deals are concluded through these mediums.
Overall, our industry has been forced to move at a much slower pace but we are still adjusting to this new pace.
Q. If you were in trouble, who would you call first, your lawyer or your mother?
My lawyer definitely!
Q. Most lawyers come across as outgoing and extroverted whereas you seem slightly shy – do you have a different persona for the courtroom?
It is quite different in the courtroom.
I tend to cut to the chase, and that is because my mentor once said to me “if you have nothing to say, then say nothing” so I often confine myself to saying what needs to be said and resting my case.
Q. I am always amazed that lawyers can think so quickly on their feet – does that come naturally to you or did you have to work on it?
It is a skill I had to cultivate in the first year of my internship (pupillage) and I am glad I learned that early.
Q. What does a normal working day in the life of a lawyer involve?
A typical day starts with checking and responding to important emails.
Dashing off to court but oftentimes, I am consulting, mediating or drafting arguments.
Q. What’s the biggest case you’ve been involved in?
Defending a client charged with triple murder. It’s still ongoing so I cannot say much about it.
Q. We understand you have a blog? Tell us more about it?
Yes, I have a platform where I share tips to help the layperson appreciate our culture and industry as a whole, it is called The Law Raven. It is on Facebook and Instagram.
Q. For someone who might be interested in reaching out to you, how do they contact you?
We may be reached on our landline and email address which are all available on our Facebook page.
Q. Away from the courtroom, who is Nsi Pabalinga?
I am a God-fearing woman who enjoys spending time with my family. I also like gardening, reading and taking part in my church projects. Overall, I am quite a sociable person.
Q. Men are often intimidated by successful, independent women – have you found that to be the case?
No, I have never found myself in that position.
Q. And how will you be spending your weekend?
I am spending the weekend at Masimo for some rest and recreation.