Being a woman should not be looked upon as a handicap but rather a compliment
SHAMLA PATHER is an attorney, and the sole owner of her practice, Shamla Pather Attorneys, which is based in Umhlanga Rocks.
Shamla is an experienced lawyer who has been in practice for 22 years. Her practice provides a wide range of legal services, with a team to back up the firm's various divisions, with its focus being commercial and civil litigation. Shamla also has experience with family law, a sphere which she specialises in, this work is on a referred based, where she is solicited for her niche expertise. Shamla practices all over the country and also has a variety of international clients.
Shamla's upbringing and family life was simple and humble, and this set the tone for her to want to succeed. Whist she has done well as an attorney, her humility and simplicity are obvious traits she possesses. She has not forgotten her days of living in Chatsworth, where she grew up as the youngest of four children. With three older brothers she learnt to play rugby and soccer at a young age and became a football fanatic. Her dad, a manufacturing jeweller was a weekly wage earner, Shamla found that he was still paying off her brother's university fees, although he had been seven years ahead of her, when she completed matric. This was a turning point in her life as she knew that to succeed, hard work and commitment was required.
An amazing woman
Shamla attributes her success and hard work to her late mum. She is emphatic that her mother remains the most amazing individual she has encountered. Her mum passed away during Shamla's final year at university, which was very traumatic. Her father's death followed just four years later, whilst she assumed the role of mum at home.
She says, "Every accolade, every milestone achieved, I dedicate to my mother. She still inspires me to be the best that I can be." Shamla adds that her mother was not formally educated but she taught her values and doing things the right way irrespective of fear or incrimination. The attitude that athletes have inspires Shamla daily. She was an athlete at school and an athlete's focus gives Shamla strength and exhilaration. "Anything can be achieved with hard work, determination, and dedication". The start of any problem is like a race and you must focus on what the last 50 metres will bring. If you have done your preparation and you are confident, natural endurance will take over and you will succeed.
In evaluating what she has accomplished so far, Shamla says that she is content but looks at achieving more in the social environment. Having come from a disadvantaged background, she is a champion of women's and children's rights. It is a most rewarding feeling when you have made a difference in someone's life.
Shamla does not believe women should approach business differently to men and she suggests that women adapt to their environment. "Gone are the days that this is a man's world. It is definitely your world, whatever your gender. With the number of opportunities that women have, instead of competing against men, you should just get out there and do what you do. There is no reason to be in their shadow, there is no reason to complain. Being a woman should not be looked upon as a handicap but rather a compliment. When I went for my first interview for articles of clerkship, I was offered a secretarial position with more salary, as I was told that I looked the part of a secretary, more than that of a lawyer. I was not deterred." And now Shamla confidently says that she has won many matters against that firm.
Shamla is the patron of several organisations and she makes it her duty to assist where she can. She contributes to the upliftment of the society by doing pro bono work, team building, and fund-raising. She is happy to get her hands dirty and says to have accomplished something for your community means you are leaving behind a legacy.
Shamla achieves a healthy work-life balance and she credits her husband for this. "Despite him being a busy medical doctor, he is helpful and stands by my side, allowing me to do the things that need to be done." He is her biggest admirer and has encouraged Shamla to break boundaries and not to be afraid. That's rare and she appreciates his unselfish commitment.
Family time is family time
She has a good support system but thinks that her background of becoming a mum at an early age to her siblings allows her to juggle work and home. Her family, including her daughter Jayde, has adapted to a schedule that works for everyone. Jayde is the light of Shamla's life and to date her biggest and best achievement. Jayde is adoring of her mother and equally proud of her. Jayde says, "Whatever needs to be done, mum makes a plan".
If she had to go back to her younger self, Shamla would have told the person she was in her thirties: "Have another child. Children make life fun, keep you younger". Shamla and Dan are blessed to have Jayde, their only child and the reality that she goes away from home to university is a lonely thought. Shamla feels she was selfish to Jayde in not having another child, as the beauty and bonds of siblings is priceless.
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Shamla is an experienced lawyer who has been in practice for 22 years. Her practice provides a wide range of legal services, with a team to back up the firm's various divisions, with its focus being commercial and civil litigation