An American actor Jerry Seinfeld once defined a lawyer as: “The person who knows the rules of the country. We are all throwing the dice, playing the game, moving our piece around the board, but if there is a problem, the lawyer is the only person who has read the inside of the top of the box.”
Quite close to that definition, Etuna Josua (Corporate legal advisor and company secretary at Epangelo Mining Company (Pty) Ltd) explains that being a corporate legal advisor implies advising his client one how to operate business concerns while remaining inside the margins of legality to keep them out trouble.
It also implies defending his client when they might find themselves being the subject of lawsuits or criminal regulatory penalties from their business activities.
Being a corporate legal advisor made Etuna realise that Namibia needs to invest more in producing lawyers in diversified fields of speciality, not just the usual lawyers who specialise in public service matters, but in criminal and administrative law, which is what most lawyers do and which law school trains them for mainly.
“It seems that when the Faculty of Law was established in 1994, the most urgent need was for prosecutors and magistrates throughout the country, which is what they focus on. Hence emphasis on public law subjects, especially in the early years,” he says.
He insists that it should be necessary that after some time, institutions should move away from that and offer courses in the mining, insurance, and fishing laws, or in the intellectual property rights protection and copyright laws. He notes that lawyers in those sectors are mostly nonexistent.
“Without the copyright laws, the whole entertainment industry is likely to collapse. Another aspect that needs emphasis is the ‘Trusts’. The lack of specialised lawyers leads to the fact that most of those lawyers are then foreigners, which should start to change. Only in extreme cases should outsiders be allowed to practice in our the legal system” he says.
He recommended that a multifaceted approach that includes training would help reduce the lack of specialised lawyers and open the field to the law of economics, such as corporate law.
As the corporate legal advisor for Epangelo Mining Company, Etuna gives legal advice to the board and to the different shareholders serving on the board.
He states that being a legal advisor is a never ending learning experience. He is always on his toes and under pressure because assignments from a client can just arise at any time and he has to attend to them urgently to meet the deadlines.
As an advisor, he needs to study all the agreements and contracts thoroughly and advise his clients accordingly, unlike the client who might see only the benefit of the deal. He has to make sure that the advice and decision taken will still be valid in the long term.
“I have to provide the most legally accurate and practical solution. You have to think of all possible scenarios to go with the advice. Most people will not think further than making the decision. I have to make sure that the decision will not come bite us ten years down the line because there is a clause in the contract we did not consider important,” he states.
He insists that although the answer to the query might be a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, which might look quite easy to reach from an outside point of view. However there is so much research and work that goes into that simple answer. As a lawyer, you must always be conscious of all legal implications of an advice.
For the past decade, Etuna (33), a holder of a Bachelor of Laws and a specialised diploma in Dispute Resolution from the University of Namibia, has been a legal practitioner and advisor of various corporate organisations.
He started off as a legal advisor at Legal Shield Namibia, and then worked his way through companies such as Hitula Associates/ Lorentz Angula Inc (Oshakati) and Lorentz & Bone as a candidate legal practitioner.
In the year 2006, he was admitted as a legal practitioner of the High Court of Namibia which allowed him to work as a legal practitioner in the ‘Conradie and Damaseb Law Firm (Windhoek and Swakopmund) and in Kwala & Company Legal Practitioners (Windhoek and Rundu).
Some of the responsibilities that come with being a legal practitioner include drafting legal opinions and giving legal advice. It also means to attend lower court criminal, civil and labour litigation or high court and labour court criminal, civil and labour litigation, as well as representing clients at local authority disciplinary hearings.
Although Etuna started his career rather young, he never felt that age was an obstacle because clients always realised that he had been around for quite a while and was well acquainted with his job.
“I believe age is just a number and does not necessary constitute a challenge. I have always wanted to be involved in contributing to the development of the country, and had a strong passion for justice which is what prompted me to study law,” he states.
Strangely enough, the first time he came across a lawyer was when he went for a scholarship interview for his tertiary education.
This busy corporate lawyer practices some sports in his spare time, such as archery. He notes that more youngsters should embrace sports for their physical and mental development.
He points out that Government should invest more in sports facilities, for example, build tennis courts in all the regions of the country and not always focus on soccer, netball and track sports.
He is also involved in various community works and he used to serve on the Lotteries Board. He is also a member of the Tender Board for the Khomas Region and is a member of the Unam Council. PF