Karen Tembo is a Zambian based Lawyer who immediately upon obtaining her degree in Bachelor of Laws (LLB) in the year 2016, proceeded to enroll with the Zambia Institute of Legal Education (ZIALE) where she qualified at her first sitting of the Bar Exams and was cordially called to the Zambian Bar as an Advocate of the High Court for Zambia on 15th December, 2017. She has been at the Zambian Bar for 1 year 11 months with good standing.
Since her admission to the Zambian Bar, Karen has exceptionally excelled in the Law Practice. She is skilled in Legal Advisory, Corporate Law, Employment Law, Civil and Commercial Litigation, Civil Procedure, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Legal Research. She is currently pursuing her studies in Alternative Dispute Resolution with the Chartered Institute of Arbitration (London).
She is in private practice and currently practicing with Messrs. Milner and Paul Legal Practitioners, a Private Law Firm, situated in Lusaka, Zambia.She speaks to Courtroom Mail from Zambia
- What made you choose to be a lawyer?
My desire to see to the ends of justice for many vulnerable groups especially women and children pushed me to study Law. I also wanted to see to it that I contribute positively in one way or the other to the growth of my country’s legal framework and system, and to preserve the integrity of the Profession.
- What realities did you meet in Practice that you did not contemplate in Law School?
When in law school everything is so theoretical that I was not really exposed to the true practice and the realities of the Practice. The demand for execution of one’s skill and responsibility is high in reality. Practice reveals the true legal challenges that people have and which have to be resolved for real. This revealed to me the realities of the great need for Counsel to act vigilantly, aggressively and diligently in dealing with the challenges presented whether the issue be contentious or non-contentious.
I also never contemplated the high standards of the Law Practice such as the high need for integrity and how any slip can cost one the Practicing License which he or she has worked hard for.
When in Law School, I convinced myself that Practice would not be as challenging as Law School and the pressure it comes. Little did I know that Practice demands even more than what the Law School demanded of me.
- What changes do you desire the most in the Legal Profession?
Especially in Zambia, I would love to see a shift in the mindset of many Lawyers starting up Law Firms to not only limit the Firm to their lifespan or intend the same to be taken over by their children. It would be great to have Law Firms surviving the founders and existing many decades after. I would like to see Firms employing more Associates so as to reduce on unemployment in the profession and actually grow big law firm run by many partners with many Associates.
Also, it will be great to see more Lawyers specializing in specific areas of the Law. The Law is vast and there are so many areas one can focus on and just grow in. Every Lawyer must find their niche.
Very important to me is the mental health of the Associates and help staff in Law Firms and the need to ensure that mental health of these people are a priority in the work place. A mentally healthy and stable Associate is a very productive, motivated and confident one and will not only benefit the Firm but the Profession at large.
- Do you think you will still be practicing Law in the next 10years?
Definitely! I love what I do and I want to grow in the Practice. I am just starting out and there is a lot more out there.
- What area of Law do you think is the future for young lawyers?
Corporate Law is fast growing in Africa and so is the Law on Alternative Dispute Resolutions and I believe there is a great future for young lawyers in these areas.
6.Malawi temporarily suspended the wig and gown because of the rise in temperature,however,there has been a conversation in some quarters to abolish it permanently,what is your take on it?
Taking away completely the Wig and Gown sounds great for millennials and all those that associate the wearing of the same to colonialism and how we still seem tied to what the colonial master brought to us. Similarly people say, the colonial master itself has done away with the Wig and Gown why should we stick to them?
I have read about the background to the wearing of the Wig and Gown and to me it has nothing to do with colonialism. The wig was many centuries ago a sign of wisdom and knowledge. So associating it with colonialism for me is stretching it.
Similarly, I strongly believe the gown distinguishes Counsel from the rest in the Court auditorium and taking it away will distort this. Moreover, I think it carries some prestige with it 😂
Should we dispense with the wearing of the two? I don’t think so.
7.What do you think the Law Society or Bar association can do to improve the wellbeing of younger lawyers?
The Bar Associations should be so very much concerned of the young lawyers because they are the future of the profession. The Associations should look into the mentorship of all the young lawyers and put into place mechanisms that will foster this and their growth in the profession. For instance in Zambia the Association has implemented the junior lawyers committee to help with this
It’s not perfect and it’s still in its infancy stage but all Associations should look into this.
The Bar Associations should also allow the young ones to have a voice over issues so that decisions are made with them in mind
8. If you are to leave Law, what else will you be doing?
If I left the Law Practice, I would definitely focus on lecturing in the Law School as I have a passion for transferring the knowledge that I have acquired to those coming behind me. So basically I would still find myself in another branch of the Law.
9. If you have S100,000 to donate to a cause,where will it go?
I would put it in a fund to help vulnerable children. The orphaned especially. Put them into school and give them a chance to a better future
10. A word of advice for law students
You can become anything you want to be. Not even the sky is the Limit because only God is the limit and guess what He is limitless! Keep studying, rest and eat, you will thank me.
Be patient with yourself, especially when you start to Practice. Mistakes? You will make many but pick yourself up quickly and learn from them. Be teachable and be willing to go the extra mile in your reading and do not fear exploring the profession. Find your niche and start to improve on that! You will do great and will definitely be great. Everything will turn out just fine! All the best on your journey.
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