We can’t believe that we’re almost at the end of our first year at the Lighthouse Law Academy. Ten months ago we stepped into what was, for the three of us, our very first job. Reflecting back on that first day at Lighthouse, it was certainly one of the most nerve-racking, yet exciting, days at work. We were greeted with friendly faces and warm welcomes into the Lighthouse Law family. Our day started with an introduction to the firm, our minds buzzing from the terms and technology we had to get our heads around – a far cry from our simple world of MS Word, email, and textbooks at University.  Even using the coffee machine needed a tutorial! Next up was lunch at the Brasserie with our new colleagues, and then back to the office where we were assigned to client account teams where we would be helping actual clients! It was the beginning of our new journey.

The first week presented many challenges, which required some adjustment. We entered the year with anticipation and excitement for the challenges that lay ahead, particularly because we were entering a new frontier as the first students of the Lighthouse Law Academy.

The work we get involved in varies from day to day. A typical week starts with general training where all the lawyers get to discuss and share views on various topics. At first, we were challenged by this as some of the concepts and new commercial and tech-related terms were new to us. University did not prepare us for this! But as we became more familiar with the concepts, the sessions became easier to follow and our understanding grew.  In addition to weekly training sessions (including training sessions which focus on issues at an introductory level) we get involved in work that includes conformance exercises, document reviews, legal research, contract drafting, sitting in on calls and negotiations, attending consultations, and participating in a variety of projects.

We have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunities that we have received to engage with a wide array of different clients. Earlier in the year, Lighthouse hosted a client seminar which focused on the Business Judgment Rule in the Companies Act. Samnkelo had the opportunity to fly to Johannesburg to attend this seminar and to meet some of Lighthouse’s clients. Andile has recently been to Johannesburg as well, to attend client meetings and lunches. We also travel regularly to our clients within Cape Town. It has been exciting getting to meet clients in person and watch how the lawyers interact with them.

Observing contractual negotiations is always a highlight for us. We really enjoy them and often try to anticipate what the other side might say. It has been interesting to observe different negotiation styles and tools used by the different lawyers.  We also learnt about negotiation skills as part of our training sessions and just recently spent time in simulated negotiation exercises where we were split up into teams and were tasked with negotiating on behalf of our fictional clients. Each of one of us was teamed up with a lawyer and we worked closely together to understand the facts and develop an appropriate negotiation strategy.

We also like to have fun here at Lighthouse, so every month we have a social event hosted by a different lawyer and this really allows us to engage with everyone on a different level. The last social event was organised by us and we planned a murder mystery game. It was great to see everyone be such good sports about participating and some really got into character! We didn’t think commercial lawyers could be so entertaining!

As the first year of our apprenticeship draws to a close and we reflect back on all we have learned, we realise what a remarkable experience this has been. We are grateful for the opportunity as it has really broadened our knowledge on commercial law, and the commercial and business issues that parties need to consider when negotiating contracts. It has provided us with invaluable hands-on experience and we are so looking forward to starting our second year at the Academy in 2019 - and having a new group of students join us at the Academy.

The values of the firm were explained to us when we first started here at Lighthouse Law: Create a place to thrive. Build relationships based on trust. Deliver excellent service. Lead from where you are. Be a force for good. One thing that is clear is that the lawyers take these values seriously and really strive to live them out.

Reflecting back to earlier this year, it is great to see how far we have come. It feels like yesterday when we were interviewing for the positions at the Lighthouse Law Academy. We got to meet and host all the students who came through for interviews for the 2019 Lighthouse Law Academy intake which brought back some memories!

In conclusion, this has been one fantastic year! Thank you Lighthouse!

Taahira Adam, Andile Maneli, Samnkelo Balitafa

December 2018