AJS South Africa

Women in Law

The Women of AMC Hunter

When we interviewed Karien Hunter (the Founder and Director) and Saijal Pale (Director) at the law firm AMC Hunter there were certain aspects of who they are as a team that struck us more than anything else – their feminine strength and their desire to help others (wherever and whenever they can).

It is a dichotomy between having a nurturing spirit whilst having a shrewd mind for law. Not two attributes that normally go hand-in-hand – at least not on the face of it. But the exact opposite is true at AMC Hunter. 

It is Kavita Ramdas’s quote that immediately comes to mind when picturing the all-women staff compliment at AMC Hunter (a serendipitous but completely organic outcome) – 

 “We need women who are so strong they can be gentle, so educated they can be humble, so fierce they can be compassionate, so passionate they can be rational, and so disciplined they can be free.”

The women at AMC Hunter encapsulate all those qualities – and then some. 

When we embarked on the Women in Law Series, we thought we would be talking all about the empowerment of women. How women lift each other up. 

And that, of course, remains true. But we have also realised – after sitting down with Karien and Saijal – that there is far more to it than that. It is about empowering women but still recognising and respecting her/their femininity. 

Femininity and fierceness are not in opposition to one another. Within a woman, both can occur. And as writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, puts it – 

“I want to be respected in all of my femaleness because I deserve to be.”

To that we say – absolutely. And to AMC Hunter we say thank you for reminding us of that.

The Feminine Lawyer

AMC Hunter is a law firm that has run for 35 years now – which equates to over 150 years’ worth of combined experience. And let’s be honest, a legal practice does not run successfully for that many years without there being something a little “extra.” A special ingredient that only they know about. For AMC Hunter that comes down to working as a team. As one unit. Without hierarchy or politics. 

As Karien put’s it – 

“Women do things a little differently to men. Perhaps not consciously. It is more like an innate quality in all women. Women work as a team. Always seeking to lift their female colleagues up as they rise. Always seeking to support and encourage. That’s what makes us different. Looking back through history, we are able to see this in the way women raised children, in the way women often provided for their families, in the way women came together. It is like it is intuitively part of every woman’s makeup – you cannot do it on your own. It takes a village. For us, this focus on “not doing it alone” has spread to how we treat each other, how we support each other and how we celebrate one another.”

Unlike many other companies and law firms around the world – having a family at AMC Hunter has always been a cause for celebration. They embrace the femininity in all their staff members. Encouraging women to be more than just their jobs. Because there is life outside of the office. And they recognise that. Wholeheartedly.

AMC Hunter supports and celebrates being wives, mothers, sisters, friends, and colleagues. As well as excellent lawyers. Life is more than just work – 

Ø  It’s about balance. 

Ø  It’s about teamwork. 

Ø  It’s about mentorship. 

Ø  It’s about uplifting one another, and 

Ø  It’s about being there for one another both within their practice and outside of it as well.

That seems to be outside of the everyday norm. And not only is that refreshing to hear but it is so important for the empowerment of women. As Karien and Saijal said –

“If one of us succeeds, we all succeed.”

And that seems to be the aim of the game for the AMC Hunter team.

Sure, each team member wants to and does succeed on their own merits. Every team member wants to get ahead. But they also actively support one another. As true teammates. Succeeding because they have worked for it and not because they have done so at the expense of someone else. 

Is that the true definition of “women supporting other women”? We believe it is.

Coping with challenges

“Negative or challenging situations, especially at a very young age, are very formative. They help you become who you are. Who you can be.”

Karien is not a stranger to gender discrimination, having been on the receiving end of it more than once – often in subtle ways and sometimes in not-so-subtle ways. But it has never stopped her. Often believing it to be the other persons problem. 

Because she didn’t see any problem with being a woman in the legal profession.

When faced with adversity, the team at AMC Hunter believe you need to act. You need to have self-belief. And you need to tell others – “Watch this space.” 

And then, you go for it!

That’s a crucial point – the focus on oneself. 

For a lot of us, succeeding often means looking around us. What are other people doing? How are they succeeding? What do they have that I don’t?

But, as Karien says, it’s not about that – 

“Life is not a competition. It is about what you make out of your own career.”

It is all about you. Its not about the person next to you. It’s about the work you do for yourself. 

Learning from others is key – regardless of age or gender. Everyone has a place in the legal profession, and everyone has a voice. There is something to learn from everyone. Taking the opportunity to do so should not be overlooked. Be a sponge. And absorb. Be open to learn from those around you. You never know where the next big lesson or the next piece of sage advice will come from –

“Remain hungry to learn. Whether it is from a book, a woman, or the man on the Moon.”

But, most importantly, as sagely set out by Karien – 

“If there is a battle to be fought or a battle to be won, the focus on the battlefield should not be on gender. The focus must remain on what you can bring to the table and what you can take from a situation.”

Getting ahead does not mean walking over people, but rather embracing the lessons you can learn from them.

Karien and Saijal are women that are comfortable in their own skin. They are proud of being Women in Law. There is no room to “power dress to impress.” They are their own true selves. 

And there can be nothing more powerful than a woman who is proud of who and what she is! 

Their biggest lessons so far?

For a practice that has been running for 35 years, there have been a number of lessons learnt throughout the years. Karien and Saijal were kind enough to share theirs –

Ø  Move away from gender stereotypes. Look at people just as people. 

Ø  Empowerment can be found by creating spaces for younger voices. By helping others achieve.

Ø  Asking for help is crucial – don’t be scared to do so.

Ø  Tricky situations are an opportunity to gain experience – in fact, there is always a teachable moment.

Ø  Look after your clients – because they are more than just fees. Your clients are people who you help to complete the purchase of their dream home. Your clients are the people for whom you complete the development of 356 units. Your clients are the people who continue to use your promotional pen because it is meaningful to them – they signed their biggest deal with that pen. Your clients are the people with whom you build your practice and your career. They are people that need to be looked after and are the relationships that need to be nurtured.

Ø  When times are tough, you need to gather your strength to push through it, remembering that “This too shall pass.”

What is their advice to other female lawyers?

Ø  Above everything else – believe in yourself! Self-belief will get you through the darkest hours.

Ø  Loyalty breeds loyalty – nurture friendships and relationships with colleagues and advocates. Because you never know when you can help one another out. 

Ø  Being a woman and a woman in law is incredible. Embrace it.

With all the above cumulative information in mind, it is clear to see how and why the team at AMC Hunter can offer a true personable experience to their clients. It is quite evident that their clients mean more to them than just fees. Their clients, just like their team members, are core to their success. And they have no qualms about that.

The team at AMC Hunter have empowered each other to be the best versions of themselves. Their workplace is a happy one. And it is both so wonderful and so encouraging to witness.

AJS is proud to be associated with a formidable team of supportive women that embrace their femininity. 

Women that are proud to be Women. 

Women that are proud to be Women in Law. 

– Written by Alicia Koch on behalf of AJS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.