Rufaro Ellen Mhandu is a Zimbabwe based lawyer, who was admitted to practice in 2016. However, she graduated from the University of Pretoria in 2009 and started criminal law litigation as a prosecutor at the National Prosecuting Authority of Zimbabwe the same year. She left the public sector in 2017 and joined private practice. She has interest in criminal law litigation, women’s rights, children’s rights and data protection litigation. She works at Muvingi and Mugadza Legal Practitioners, a law firm in Harare, Zimbabwe. She speaks with Courtroom Mail from Zimbabwe

How long have you been practicing Law?
I have been practicing law for almost 3 years now, but I have 10 years’ experience in criminal law litigation.

What inspired your interest to become a Lawyer?
My father’s determination and interest in justice inspired me to pursue law and become a lawyer. His love for justice rubbed off on me.

What realities did you meet in Practice that you did not contemplate in Law School?
Law school teaches theory and not much about practice. When one gets appointed to a Senior position that infers administrative responsibilities, one needs to engage a course on Human resources management, and that I never contemplated in law school and neither were we taught on it. That took me quite by surprise I should say

What changes do you desire the most in the legal Profession?
Comprehensive training of law graduates by qualified personnel, preferably by professors of law and preservation of attorney’s right of appearance in court.

Do you think you will still be practicing Law in the next 10 years?
Certainly, I will still be practicing law in 10years’ time. Hopefully A.I. will not stand in the way of that!

Malawi temporarily suspended the wig and gown because of rise in temperature, however, there has been a conversation in some quarters to abolish it permanently, what is your take on it?
We are in the 21st century, preservation of culture is commendable, however, wigs and gowns do not fall within that ambit of culture that is worth preserving. It is not an indigenous cultural heritage that we should protect and preserve for the sake of our identity as an indigenous people. We can do away with it without dire consequence to our native heritage.

What do you think the Law Society or Bar association can do to improve the wellbeing of younger Lawyers?
The Law Society of Zimbabwe needs to take heed of young lawyers’ contributions and allow them to be council members, with a ratio of 4:6, senior counsels and young lawyers, respectively. Diversity and innovation will help the Law Society grow and thrive.

What area of Law do you think is the future of young lawyers?
Intellectual property rights law and data protection litigation is the future of young lawyers.

If you are to leave Law,what else will you be doing?
I would do humanitarian work volunteering at children’s homes and paint abstract pieces of art with them.

If you have $100,000 to donate to a cause,which cause will you donate to?
I would donate it in three parts, first part to women in prison for their welfare in prison, the second part to improvement of laws governing correctional facilities and sentencing of women in conflict with the law, and the third part to enactment and revision of laws governing court process to be followed when dealing with children in conflict with the law.

A word of advice to Law Students.
To the law students I would urge them to find a mentor, a Senior lawyer who has walked the path they wish to follow, who can help them see their passions and dreams into reality, and always know that the sky is not the limit, but space is for the taking, aim for the stars and land on the moon.