Nasra Songoro and her long journey to legal excellence

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Nasra Songoro

What you need to know:

  • Magna provides a comprehensive range of general, personalised, and specialised legal services in a number of sectors, with a vision of becoming a household name.

Dar es Salaam. Nasra Songoro is a founder and senior partner at Magna Attorneys.

A law firm established by a team of young, dynamic lawyers serves local and multinational entities and individuals as clients by providing them with high-quality representation and assisting them to navigate the complexities of the legal system.

Magna provides a comprehensive range of general, personalised, and specialised legal services in a number of sectors, with a vision of becoming a household name.

It all started in 2016, when Nasra’s desire, fuelled by a passion for building and running a successful legal business, led her to establish her own law firm.

The bold move made her quit her job as an associate at Leonard & Co. Advocates, where she started as a legal officer in July 2014 and later got promoted to associate, the position she resigned from.

“After years of honing my skills in the legal fraternity, the burning desire to build something uniquely mine propelled me to quit my job and establish my own law firm. Propelled by borrowed money from my sister and my mother’s ever-encouraging words and prayers, I embarked on a remarkable solo journey, founding Magna Attorneys in 2016,” said Nasra.

Nasra said the beginning of a solo journey was a mix of excitement and challenges as she navigated the complexities of entrepreneurship, where she dedicated countless hours to building her clientele. “The challenges served as valuable lessons that propelled me forward. I embraced failure as an opportunity to learn and grow, understanding that resilience is key to overcoming adversity,” said Nasra. She said networking and mentorship played crucial roles in shaping her journey. Being flexible to adapt and change towards the landscape of opportunities while embracing innovation and staying abreast of emerging trends allowed her to stay relevant and capitalise on new opportunities as they arose.

As a founder at Magna Attorneys, she has played an instrumental role in shaping the firm’s ethos of excellence, innovation, and client-centric advocacy, leading by example and infusing her team with a passion for legal precision and a client-first mindset. Nasra defines herself as a trusted advisor and strategist, always keen to think outside the box. A solution-oriented person who always believes in solving and resolving. With a visionary approach to conflict resolution, she has honed the art of finding amicable solutions to complex disputes.

Commenting on how she uses her position to empower more women to seek justice regardless of male dominance in some areas, she said that Magna started off as a sole proprietorship business with one female lawyer. It evolved into a partnership of four brilliant legal minds, two of whom are female by choice. This is not purely by chance, but by design. I wanted to make sure female inclusivity was adhered to.

On top of that, Magna mentors and provides support to aspiring female lawyers and law students by sharing their experiences, providing guidance, and offering support to help them navigate the challenges of the legal profession.

They also dedicate a portion of their time to providing free services that specifically focus on cases that impact women and marginalised communities. “We use our legal expertise to provide representation to those who may not otherwise have access to legal advice due to financial constraints,” said Nasra. Sharing the challenges she goes through at work, she said that creating longevity and consistent delivery of your services is the major challenge in running a law firm business, as it needs a team in order to accomplish this.

She acknowledges that being able to manage a team and retain lawyers is quite difficult. It is important to invest in choosing partners.

With this, you need to get someone who you can fully trust to share a vision with, as the majority of partnerships fail due to untrustworthy acts and/or egos. Another challenge is being able to hire and retain well-rounded, dedicated, and passionate lawyers.

Even if you take the difficult route of nurturing young, inexperienced lawyers, training them, and exposing them to your firm’s resources and clientele,as soon as you get that rhythmic flow, disappointment dawns as they express their interest in leaving.

“We have been able to overcome these challenges by setting strict boundaries and standard operating procedures among the partners and staff. This goes hand in hand with the policies that we set up to guide us. It provides checks and balances and, like any other business, we continue to learn from our experiences, providing room for growth. Another area we are keen on is compensation packages and motivations for a work-life balance,” she said. The challenges above and how she overcomes them have made her a transformational leader who leads by example. She likes to inspire her partners and team by setting a compelling vision and encouraging or supporting the members to reach their maximum potential.

Nasra’s leadership is guided by the principles she can never compromise.

“I am a no-nonsense type of person and very impatient with time wasting. I can never compromise on efficient delivery. We should always deliver for our clients.” When responding to why the country needs women’s representation in the legal field, she said that women bring unique perspectives and life experiences to legal issues, which can lead to more comprehensive and equitable decision-making.

Women lawyers can challenge gender biases and stereotypes within the legal system, leading to fairer outcomes for all parties involved.

Studies suggest that diverse teams, including those with gender diversity, tend to be more effective at problem-solving and decision-making due to a wider range of perspectives and approaches, she added.

She acknowledges her mother for being an inspiration to her due to her approach to life.

She was a bank employee and later transitioned to being a businesswoman.

She is a person of the utmost integrity, stern but kind, soft-spoken but firm.

A resilient human being, who despite going through the hardest of challenges, remains fulfilled in her role. She leads with kindness and humility.

She is my idol and my greatest wish is to be able emulate her.