Fatima Laher, Head of Pro Bono at Pan African law firm Bowmans, has been granted a Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Pro Bono management. The accolade was granted by the SA Professional Services Awards sponsored by Sanlam and W. Consulting.

Professionals from various organisations were set to gather at a gala dinner in Montecasino Ball Room on the evening of 19 March 2020 to honour the best amongst them. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the SAPSA Awards were indefinitely postponed. The organisers of the event have subsequently undertaken to progressively announce the winners for the 2019/2020 edition prior to hosting a gathering for all finalists and guests. This marks the fifth edition of the Awards following a rigorous process of determining winners through strict criteria.

Janette Minnaar, the chair of the adjudication panel explained how the winners were determined.

“Individuals were judged based on a host of attributes including demonstration of leadership skills, changing of paradigms and innovation within the bounds of available resources. We also conferred a number of Lifetime Achievement Awards to deserving recipients who had served their professions faithfully for many years,” said Minnaar.

The firm awards were based on the following criteria – business growth, customer service, technical excellence, contribution to the community, contribution to the profession, transformation record and commitment to ethics and professionalism. The criteria were not equally weighted, a strong showing in one category was sufficient to put the firm above the rest.

Fatima Laher’s key focus at the firm is the management and co-ordination of the firm’s pro bono programme in accordance with the firm policy. Her long career dates back to working for the Legal Resources Centre in 1987 and prior to joining Bowmans she worked at the Department of Justice, Alexandra Legal Aid Centre and the Legal Aid Board.

“Fatima’s resume reveals a professional who has made it her life’s work to use the legal profession as an avenue for social good,” the judges remarked.  “We admire her professional perspective; ‘to regard your work space as sacred where you come to self-actualize and achieve, working with honesty and integrity always putting the best interest of your company first’”

Watch Fatima Laher’s acceptance speech below: