What is WOLELA?

WOLELA is a national network of women lawyers committed to their personal and professional development. Lawyers who join the network sign up for a process in a new paradigm of leadership development for the legal profession: integrative and authentic female leadership. This process takes place in monthly evening sessions via formal and informal conversations and networking opportunities between sessions. In alignment with international statistics, South Africa has reached a turning point where there are now more female law graduates than male. It is time to ask:


“Will it be simply that more lawyers are women, or will the legal profession be transformed by the women who practise law?” 

~ Professor Carrie Menkel-Meadow

WOLELA engages actively with our members to find ways to help them. Do we have all the answers? Nope. But we have created a platform which supports women lawyers while they explore how to get from an often frustrated, burnt out, unbalanced life in the law to a fulfilled, healthier, more satisfying place. This looks very different for each individual. It may involve a career change but it may just as likely be a new perspective on oneself and a new definition of what success looks like. Our annual conference is an opportunity for very busy women lawyers to take a day to reflect on where they are at, where they want to be and how they might get there.

Benefits of Joining

For lawyers ready to find new ways for women to lead in law, WOLELA will enable you to:

Understand your personal leadership style and how to optimize it
Align your actions with your highest vision for yourself in every decision you make
Practise mindfulness techniques to help you to slow down in order to speed up. These technique create greater harmony in your life and assist you in being more productive
Sharpen your business skills so that you can effectively lead and influence thereby impacting the bottom line of your organisation or legal practice
Develop integrated relationships with clients that support both you and your client fully
Build a practice that aligns with your values
Develop conscious negotiation skills
Practise self-care and master resilience and recovery for personal and professional well-being
Unlock your own style of powerful female leadership
Learn to use mentoring, coaching and sponsorship to reach your highest potential

Interested in joining Wolela?


We are currently re-configuring WOLELA, creating a team of volunteers, raising sponsorship and making subscription fees super affordable.

We are not taking registrations until the new systems are in place estimated to be by end March 2018.

Please sign up below so we can notify you as soon as the new WOLELA is up and running!

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2017 Session Details

Each session will be facilitated by a highly qualified inspirational and insightful coach or lawyer with the necessary expertise for that subject. 

Download Program

Are you practising law or being a lawyer?

Lawyers tend to be Type A, overachievers. We often overwork ourselves, raised on the belief that hard work can get it done. We’re constantly trying to solve our clients’ problems by DOING. In this session we’ll explore some of the tensions between Doing and Being. We delve into the myth that working harder makes us better lawyers and touch on the recent leadership theories that concern more who we ARE as leaders than on what we DO.





Courageous Conversations

One of the biggest obstacles to happiness at work and in our personal lives is our inability to hold courageous conversations. Most of us, and women even more so, avoid confronting things only to find we are still resentful and our behaviour shows it, or we explode after a period of time. This is usually because we’ve never had anyone teach us how to have a tough conversation about something we’re sad or angry about. In this session we’ll learn safely how to hold courageous conversations.

The many paths lawyers can choose

Having had such diverse experiences in her legal career, Belinda is the ideal sounding board for lawyers thinking of making a change. WOLELA members in 2016 indicated they’d like to know more about what the options are out there – this is the session for that discussion.

Your Personal Brand

Lawyers tend to lack branding skills until thrown in at the deep end when they make partner or set off to create their own practice. Understanding your personal brand is a key aspect of leadership in any type of environment. Kate will help you learn to be comfortable marketing yourself. She teaches that selling yourself with confidence, without arrogance, is a key part of your personal brand-building strategy. You don’t want to be the world’s best kept secret.

Developing Authentic Power vs External Power

Mabatho helps women see the link between our life scripts, self esteem and our achievements and level of happiness. One of her key teachings is that who we are including our experiences, upbringing, values, beliefs and programming have a critical impact on how we interact with the world. She shows how she grew to understand “that if I want to prosper on my terms, it is by far more important that I win the inner game” and assists women to know what it means to develop their authentic power. 

On The Boardwalk

Lawyers can make sought-after board members but although many women would like a chance to explore how they might contribute to a board, they don’t know much about what it entails or how to go about it.

Resilience 101

The number one issue women lawyers face is burnout, often experiencing this as early as during their law degree or articles. Does this sound familiar? “You are stretched. You feel fragmented. There are too many hats to wear, too many roles to play, too many fires to put out. And you never signed up for fireman! You empty you inbox. It fills up again. You don’t admit it – because you are strong – but life is draining.” 

Getting Your Voice Heard

Rising to the top in a very male-dominant industry can be difficult while also trying to maintain a feminine leadership style. In this session we delve into how women can ensure their voices are heard and their value appreciated.

Conflict Managements Tools for Women Leaders

Learning to manage conflict effectively is a key leadership skill. Women can benefit from understanding how men and women approach conflict differently. In this session we’ll look at conflict management styles, distinguishing positions from needs, identifying needs, and then several specific tools including reframing, paraphrasing, effective listening and the effective use of questions.

Personal Power & Influence

In this session we will touch on the difference between personal power and positional power. For lawyers to win new business, they need to understand the process of building trust which is not merely about displaying one’s legal competence. Building trust happens through the influencing processes of listening, involving and disclosing – all skills which can and must be developed as part of growing one’s leadership ability.

Making a Contribution

This session is about being bigger than yourself, whether it’s researching women’s rights or educating the next generation of lawyers. We will speak about what the journey looks like, including how to make a contribution to society. We will also deal with the “presumption of incompetence” that women lawyers still, sadly, find themselves facing in certain contexts.