Yvonne Wakefield: The Innovative Lawyer
Yvonne Wakefield is the founder and CEO of Caveat Legal @caveatlegal, a legal consulting and advisory company which serves as a platform for connecting clients seeking legal services with independently practicing commercial lawyers who desire flexibility and who have opted out of the traditional, big law firms. In addition to running Caveat, she has also recently founded The Warrior Project South Africa @thewarriorprojectsa , a non-profit organisation focused on providing information and resources for victims of domestic abuse and gender based violence.
Yvonne’s love for justice and fairness saw her deciding to become a lawyer at the age of 10, with her initially going on to qualify not only as an attorney initially focused on commercial litigation but eventually joining the bar as an advocate, thus coming full circle as to why she chose to originally pursue the legal profession. After starting her family at 29 and having her first two children in fairly quick succession, she stepped out of the legal profession to focus on raising her family. However, as much as she loved being a mother, she missed the law, but the culture of the big law firms and the practise of litigation was not conducive to the family and career lifestyle combination that she was seeking. It was around this time that she also started noticing that many of her fellow lawyer friends who had also become parents were also seeking an alternative solution to practising law. Thus, in 2011, she established Caveat Legal which effectively serves as a home for freelancing lawyers providing a range of legal services which include: ad-hoc brief work (including commercial transactions and highly specialised legal work), retainers, secondments and legal gap analyses; all at an otherwise more affordable fee than the traditional legal firms. Because of the pioneering nature of Caveat Legal, offering non-reserved legal services through a private company, Yvonne sought the blessing of the Law Society of South Africa at the outset. The company started with 5 lawyers on its panel but these days the panel of lawyers, men and women, has grown to over 50, with the company having found a sweet spot in the local private equity and venture capital space.
Yvonne is today a single mom of three children following a harrowing exit from an abusive relationship, which saw her being hospitalised for burnout about 3 years ago.
We are inspired by Yvonne’s innovativeness in finding and establishing a successful alternative legal business model and by her courage and strength in creatively rebuilding her life after divorce, all whilst being able to channel that strength into addressing the problem of domestic abuse and gender based violence.
Featured artist: Janine Du Plessis @whimsicalstudio