Today I’m interviewing an inspiring woman called Dominique Malherbe, a mom of 4 and a lawyer who has also somehow found the time to write a book!!! From Courtrooms to Cupcakes is her take on the career/ mother struggle and a fascinating read.
Read on to find out more about her…
Tell me more about yourself and what you currently do?
I am currently researching and writing an academic work relevant to the legal profession, taking a sabbatical from law lecturing while I finish it. Also trying to find gaps to finish the sequel to my next book which is very different from the academic work. I’m working to publishing deadlines with my academic work but somehow get drawn to filling in a few chapters of my own one! Then of course, the whole world of social media has also become an important part of what I do and I find it all quite tricky to prioritise at the moment but I am hoping that perhaps blogging will help my new book. Mothering, though, is my real full-time job. Four kiddies. So as you can imagine, I drive a lot too! Live in Cape Town and learning to appreciate it more everyday. What a truly beautiful place to live in. Feel privileged and lucky.
When did you know this is what you wanted to do?
I suppose much of the study of law involves writing and in truth as I child, I always loved to document or journal or write. As a young girl I kept a diary and then when I had my first child (now just turned 17) I started journaling again which culminated finally in my own book From Courtrooms to Cupcakes. Having done Post Grad qualifications in Tax and then a Master’s years ago during my law articles, writing obviously formed part of this discipline. With children and having left the corporate world for good, my lecturing has enabled me to keep my interest in law while allowing me to fostering a passion for other writing. And now, together with my lecturing, a recent research appointment and commissioned work effectively combines law and writing further, albeit it very different writing.
What did you study – was it in this field or something different?
I studied law and qualified as an attorney but had an interest in tax law at the time and specialised in tax, working in the tax/accounting fields and then banking, rather than an attorney. With children, I wanted to continue in the legal field but corporate life with small children is quite tricky and I felt as though I needed to be more part of their lives. Lecturing provided this opportunity and somewhere inbetween I pursued a creative writing course through UCT which was the catalyst for completing my book.
What was your first job in the industry? and what path has your career taken since?
I worked as a tax consultant and then completed my articles in order to qualify as an attorney. I also spent time in merchant banking but ultimately went back into legal/tax. After my third child was born, I qualified as a conveyancer as I thought this may an option with children – but this has never interested me! I started lecturing when my fourth child was 6 months old and have been doing this ever since. My interest in professional ethics and my appointment as a researcher for UFS has given me the opportunity to write. Having done a short stint compiling law reports with the publishers in between lecturing semesters helped too.
What have been the highlights?
Launching my book at the Book Lounge was hugely exciting for me. I had attended many book launches there including one of Edwin Cameron on his wonderful book “Justice: a personal account” just a few months previously and this event (and particularly the support from them and of course all my super and generous friends) made me feel like a real author. Getting the book into the bookshops, and particularly at Exclusive Books was another highlight. Writing is one thing, getting published another but distribution and marketing is an entirely separate thing altogether! Lots to say about this – fodder for another blog!
What’s the best part of your job?
The fact that it’s flexible and I can be involved in my children’s lives which being in practice could never have allowed.
What is the most challenging part?
Knowing when to switch off and not spending every night in my study. Finding a long stretch of writing time is what I desperately need without all the interruptions that domestic life brings! Trying to love social media and get the real hang of it without it imposing on me too much.
What is your typical day, or maybe week if days are very different?
I get the kids up early as we have a fairly long trip to school and then if I’m not lecturing (or it’s my hubby’s turn to take them), try to get as much time in with the writing. Afternoons are crazy and most of the time is spent in my car fetching and carrying. Have enlisted some help every now and then but find it still the most stressful and unproductive part of my day. Children are tired or hungry or both and it is a fallacy that it is a good time to connect with them!
Also decided that 2015 is a year of appreciating CT more and have joined a fabulous group of hikers for a mountain morning every 2 weeks. Am an extremely intermittent and irregular runner.
What are the “secrets” to your success?
Be open to every and any new opportunity that arises. Try something different and be interested in things.
As a mom how do you get the balance between your family and career life right?
I’m not sure I have it quite right all the time. My husband would tell you I work too hard for very little financial reward but I am obsessed with writing! I consider myself extremely lucky that I have choices and am not compelled to be working in a full time capacity on the 20th floor of an office in town. I’m also acutely aware of the disparities in this country and grateful for the fact that I have choices about the type of work I want to do which 99% of the population does not.
What do you do for fun in your down time?
During the week, down time is really watching the kids doing their sport. On weekends, I read mostly – anything other than legal stuff when I get a break, put on the music really loud (love most music but love jazz in particular) and dance around the room with the kids or whoever – though on occasion by myself until after midnight! Walks with hubby and dogs are special too. Mid –week evenings out on our own are the best though we don’t always get to them.
What do you still want to achieve?
I want to read everything I can lay my hands on and feel there aren’t enough hours in the day. I wish I had paid more attention to my English lecturer at university because now I have to re-read all the classics again. I want to write lots more books and would love to get international publication. I would love to more educated in classical music too and one day hopefully travel to international jazz festivals.
The great news is that one lucky Becoming you reader will WIN a signed copy of Dominique’s book called From Courtrooms to Cupcakes.
THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED
Images: Dominique Malherbe