A deep-seated passion for justice drives young strategic advisor

Brian Mhlongo

Brian Mhlongo

Published Jun 27, 2024


Q&A with Brian Mhlongo, 33, the youngest strategic advisor to the Legal Practice’s Council’s (LPC) Chief Executive Officer.

What sparked your interest in the legal field?

My interest in the legal field was sparked by a deep-seated passion for justice and a desire to make a meaningful impact on society. Growing up, I was always intrigued by the law’s role in shaping societal norms, protecting rights, and resolving conflicts. This curiosity led me to explore various facets of the legal system and its influence on everyday life.

During my formative years, I witnessed instances where access to justice was limited, and I became acutely aware of the impact that legal advocacy can have on people’s lives. This awareness drove me to pursue a career where I could make a tangible difference, ensuring that justice is not just an ideal but a reality for all.

My academic journey further fuelled this passion. Studying law allowed me to delve into the complexities of legal principles and their application.

The more I learned, the more I realised the significant role that legal professionals play in interpreting and enforcing the law, ensuring fairness, and maintaining social order.

Since joining the LPC, as a young person how has your career evolved overtime?

Since joining the LPC in 2017, my career has evolved significantly. Initially, I began my journey with the organisation when it was still the Law Society of the Northern Provinces, serving as a Legal Officer in the Disciplinary Department. This role laid the foundation for my career, allowing me to immerse myself in the intricacies of legal discipline and ethics. It was here that I honed my skills in managing disciplinary matters, conducting investigations, and ensuring that legal practitioners adhered to the highest standards of professional conduct.

Recognising my dedication and expertise, I applied for and was appointed as a Senior Legal Advisor in the Office of the Executive Officer. This role broadened my scope of responsibilities significantly, involving me in high-level legal advisement, policy drafting, and regulatory compliance. I provided legal counsel to various departments, including Human Resources, Risk and Compliance, Regulatory, and Finance, and played a crucial role in drafting and vetting legal documents, managing litigation processes, and conducting legal research.

In addition to my advisory role, I had the opportunity to act as the Director of the North-West LPC Provincial Office. This position required me to oversee the provincial office’s functions, ensuring that it operated efficiently and effectively while aligning with the LPC’s overall mission and objectives.

Most recently, I have had the honour of acting as the Executive Officer. This role has been the pinnacle of my career at the LPC, involving comprehensive oversight of the Council’s activities, strategic planning, and direct engagement with key stakeholders.

What challenges have you faced, and how have you overcome them?

Each challenge has provided valuable lessons and opportunities for growth, allowing me to refine my skills and enhance my contributions to the organization.

In my capacity as Acting Director of the North-West LPC Provincial Office, I encountered the challenge of leading a team in a new and dynamic environment. This role required me to quickly establish credibility and build strong relationships with staff and stakeholders. I addressed this challenge by adopting a collaborative leadership style, actively listening to team members’ concerns, and fostering a culture of trust and transparency. By empowering my team and encouraging their input, I was able to create a cohesive and motivated workforce dedicated to achieving our shared goals.

Acting as the Executive Officer presented the challenge of overseeing the entire organization’s strategic direction and operations. This role demanded a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of the LPC’s functions and the ability to make informed decisions under pressure. I overcame this challenge by leveraging my extensive experience within the organization and seeking guidance from mentors and senior colleagues. By staying informed about industry trends and regulatory developments, I ensured that my decisions were well-informed and aligned with the LPC’s mission and objectives.

What are your hopes for the future of the legal sector in SA?

My hopes for the future of the legal sector in South Africa are deeply rooted in the principles of justice, equity, and accessibility. As the legal landscape continues to evolve, there are several key areas where I envision significant progress and positive change.

I hope to see enhanced access to legal services for all South Africans, regardless of their socio-economic status. The legal profession must strive to break down barriers that prevent individuals from seeking and obtaining legal assistance. This includes expanding pro bono services, increasing public awareness of legal rights, and leveraging technology to provide affordable and efficient legal solutions. By doing so, we can ensure that justice is not a privilege reserved for the few, but a fundamental right accessible to everyone.

Secondly, I aspire for the legal profession to embrace diversity and inclusivity more fully. The profession should reflect the rich diversity of South African society, with representation across all levels of the profession, including senior leadership positions. This means actively promoting policies and practices that support gender equality, racial diversity, and the inclusion of marginalized groups. By fostering a more diverse and inclusive legal community, we can bring a wider range of perspectives and experiences to bear on legal issues, ultimately leading to more just and equitable outcomes.

I hope for the legal profession to continue its commitment to ethical practice and integrity. Maintaining the highest standards of professional conduct is essential for building public trust and confidence in the legal system. This involves rigorous enforcement of ethical guidelines, ongoing education and training for legal practitioners, and a robust disciplinary framework to address misconduct. By upholding these standards, we can ensure that the legal profession remains a pillar of integrity and accountability.

Cape Times

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