Spotting a gap in the market for a female-owned law firm in an industry saturated with male partnerships, tenacious entrepreneurs and legal professionals Nomfuneko Mkhize and Lulama Miya were not afraid to challenge the status quo when they set up Mkhize Miya Attorneys Incorporated in Westville (KZN).
They knew that establishing a business in a closely knit legal community largely populated by generations-old law firms that have been working together for decades, wasn’t going to be easy. To add to the difficultly, they also chose to focus on property law – a highly competitive and tightly guarded space in its own right.
“We wanted to break through the barriers in that space. When we started the firm in 2015, we understood the legal aspects, but not the grainy details of running a business,” explains Lulama.
The only way forward was to do things differently, which not only meant putting in place sound business systems, but also developing themselves as professionals, individuals and brands in their own right. “To build ourselves as individuals and as brands, we decided to diversify our skills by adding risk and other areas that weren’t traditionally within the legal space in order to bring something more to the market. What sets us apart is our mind frame and how we see this business. It is not just the two of us with a sign on the wall for eternity. It is not just the two of us running around in court every single day. We are building something that will attract other people with the same interests as us, and who will add their expertise to make this much bigger than what it is now,” says Nomfuneko.
The two met while working at the eThekwini Municipality Legal Services Department as legal advisors. Over many a lunch and tea break, they shared their dreams of starting their own law firms. In 2015, they noticed that the legal landscape was changing and decided the time was right to delve into the town planning and property spheres.
Initially, they provided all the (wo)manpower needed for the fledgling law firm. They concentrated on town planning, applying for appointments into various municipal planning tribunals, and also established a conveyancing department while adding other services such as the winding up of deceased estates, estate planning, wills and trusts, as well as family law and divorces to their offering.
Today, nine people are employed at the property law firm that works closely with all the major banks, property developers and municipalities. To build the business skills needed to run a much bigger organisation, the partners signed up with Action Coach Business Mastery three years ago.
“We have gained confidence, negotiating skills and business savvy through Trevor Clarke’s business acumen. Coaching has done wonders for our business’ bottom line. We have increased our profit margin due to the growth of our client base,” says Nomfuneko.
According to Lulama, coaching will put any small business on the right path especially while struggling with the impact of Covid-19. “Coaching is essential for business growth, personal growth and accountability. It will help with setting and achieving different goals and milestones.”
Going forward, the dynamic duo plan on growing their business in KZN and venturing into other provinces. They would also like to increase their service offering to include legal risk management, company secretariat services and property development. But, as their business expands, these two young professionals face a slightly different challenge – attaining a healthy work/home balance. Working mothers to four children each, Lulama and Nomfuneko spend most of their spare time with their spouses and families.
Together, they are committed to growing their business for the sake of both their families and employees.