Using a lawyer is like visiting the vet. Hard, scary – and necessary.

Using a lawyer is like visiting the vet. Hard, scary – and necessary.

Ginen Moodley of Moodley Attorneys chatted with us about the relationship between SMEs and business law in SA. And why it needs to be a healthy one.

Ginen is our kind of people – people who shitzu not. Here at the Small Business Showcase, we appreciate that. A straight talker with a big heart.  

Meet Thor

Our chat with Ginen got us thinking… Imagine being a vet. Your passion is animals, you love them more than anything in the world. But your interaction with Thor the sausage dog and Loki the tabby is always a negative one.

But does it have to be?

What if doing “the hard stuff” was less traumatic?

Live long and pawsper

Ginen worked at a corporate and commercial litigation firm and spotted an unsettling trend.

A trend that inspired him to start Moodley Attorneys. “Those that were assisted were those that had [the] finances… and given our demographics, it was predominantly one-sided,” he says. He also noticed that previously disadvantaged and/or black lawyers weren’t going into business law.

Why not?

“Black attorneys or historically disadvantaged attorneys would go into criminal law, family law, administration of estates… things that black people were traditionally exposed to.”

And so he says that there “wasn’t a client base” for business law.

Barking up a new tree

All that has changed. (Can we get an amen!?)

With policies like BEE, organisations like Seda and initiatives like the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation (which Ginen is a mentor at btw), the small business space in South Africa has diversified.

But the support and infrastructure for these businesses have not fully caught up.

Enter Moodley Attorneys

Ginen Moodley

“That’s where my heart lies. My heart lies with businesses.”

Ginen Moodley

Ginen says his mission was to “try change the landscape and make [SA] an inclusive society.”

Fifty shades of spay

Taking Thor to the vet for his snip is not a pleasant affair. For anyone. Least of all for the vet who loves animals but has to be the big bad wolf.

Ginen chats with us about how his team often deals “with people [at their] most vulnerable and most needy and most desperate… They’ve got the most to lose.” If you’re seeing a lawyer, it’s generally “not a good thing,” he concedes. 

Which is why he’s advocating for small businesses to start being proactive: “Put some costing into legal fees. People must understand: it’s part of the game,” Ginen says. “Come to us when things are going good.”

In other words, take Thor to the vet just for cuddles and loves.  

The 5-second rule doesn’t work when you have a 2-second dog.

This golden rule may not survive but here are a few that will. Entrepreneurs and SMEs need to keep these in mind:

  • Comply with the law.
  • Labour law – do it properly. “Don’t end up wasting energy and money at the CCMA,” says Ginen. Have a good HR policy and proper contracts. And remember that “some of these things are tax-deductible.”
  • Manage your debt. “You’re not a bank!” Ginen exclaims. Taking on clients’ 120-day payment plans is not going to work. 

Eat your heart mweot!

When we ask Ginen about his thoughts around entrepreneurship in SA today and tomorrow, he says there’s “no country that has it all easy” and if “you’re going to be an entrepreneur, you’re going to have to learn how to hustle and figure shit out.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!

“We need some cohesion,” Ginen says. “I watched the Springboks this weekend and I’m like why can’t we emulate that? Why can’t we just get that energy for us? Can’t we just harness it and spread that energy all over South Africa?”

Here’s to harnessing the energy that epic small businesses like Moodley Attorneys are generating…

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P.S. Know an SME in need of a visit to the legal vet? Or an entrepreneur who’s learnt how to hustle and would appreciate this fellow hustler’s story? Share this Small Business Showcase article far and wide: