The Uganda Law Society elected Pheona Nabasa Wall as its new president on September 12, 2020, replacing Simon M. Kinobe who had been president from 2018. She is one of the many multifaceted women around town and we met up with her to discuss a bit of her life and plans for the Uganda Law Society.
For starters, tell us about yourself, who is Pheona Wall?
My name is Pheona Nabasa Wall. I am married with three children; two boys and one girl. I am the Chief legal officer of NWSC. I am a communication professional, chartered mediator.
I am passionate about women and children’s rights, parenting and FAT. F.A.T is something I stand for it means, Faithful, Available, Teachable.
It is a creed that this country needs because when we talk about FAT it is not only a foundation for ethical practice but can be the healing for this country for returning back to a morally upright society.
I am a governance expert but passionate about proper and good stewardship. I am always learning more about how to lead by serving, mentoring, by creating followers, by uniting people, that’s who I am.
Has Pheona had any past leadership experiences that could have influenced her win for the presidency of ULS?
I was the outgoing Vice President of the ULS and Chairperson of the legal aid project of ULS.
Before that, I was the secretary of the ULS, I served as Public Relations Director of the Public Relations Association of Uganda.
I worked as the Public Relations Officer of Airtel Uganda and I did the communication role during the Warid-Airtel merger. I have also worked as the head of Public Relations of NWSC. I lectured Law at KIU for 5 years and served as the Executive Secretary to the board of National Association of Broadcasters.
That is a bit of something, how are you able to juggle being a mum, wife, legal advisor at NWSC and the different roles you have elsewhere?
I stay in the moment and give a 100% to what I am doing at the same time.
The different stakeholders I have and work with appreciate the roles I am doing. I try to be accountable and productive at all times in the different areas I work in. I also work with great teams and one of my strengths is empowering people so I am able to delegate them and still being able to get the best results.
Trusting people will give you surprising results. Both at the ULS and NWSC and even in my family where my son is the P.A, I have been able to get a lot out of people by delegating them more sometimes more than I want to but keeping our eyes on and making sure we achieve our targets.
Even with the many roles you are handling, you decided to stand for ULS, why?
I stood because I have served there before like I mentioned and I have realized the things that we need to add.
A lot has been achieved but I believe we have been standing for the community as a society a lot, but our member welfare is very dire.
We need to add a value proposition to members of the society as well, we need to be creative about the rule of law and also increase governance roles at the secretariat. I believe in being the change that you want to see, that is why I stood.
Your newly elected cabinet is predominantly women, how then are you going to use this to your advantage to improve the welfare of women in law?
I am proud that when I was VP, we established the SGBV cluster. We have got funding from UN women who are a great partner when it comes to issues of gender. We are looking to see that they help in the process to pass the sexual offenses bill, legal aid bill.
I believe these laws will be crucial in the empowerment of women generally.
We also would like to see law firms embrace the Anti-sexual harassment policy which we launched during my time as VP. I am also looking forward to seeing more engagement especially from a HE/SHE engagement and having more men involved in affirmative action because we cannot do this without the men.
During your campaigns, you mentioned establishing self help desks at the secretariat, why hasn’t the Society taken up technology to do some of these things?
We already have a Pro Bono app where people out there can access legal help. It is good to automate systems which exist but the self help desks do not exist at the secretariat but it is the beginning, we will get there.
The automation of payment systems will be ready this week and some other services that we want to automate but can’t be.
We need members to report to us especially when it comes to disputes with their employers and also to have mediation between staff and employers that need us to have a personal touch with people, something technology cannot fully replace.
Why does it take so long for lawyers to be enrolled in the bar after completing their Diploma at LDC?
The self help desks will ensure that all applications will be collected so that we have a central collection place.
I believe that will make a difference because the president of ULS sits on the Law Council so that will add more weight to the applications.
It will also make it easy for us to do the follow up. People have been applying as individuals but this will be reduced if we hand hold the people through the entire process as a secretariat.
Where do we see Pheona in the next 10 years?
In the next 10 years, I hope to be doing something for the elderly, have my own successful practice, and my children will probably be in various stages of starting their careers.
I still see myself doing ‘Faithful Available Teachable’ because it is going to be a process but I would like to create a generation of people that know how to walk the talk and know their identity; people know what to stand for and people who are faithful to their calling either as advocates or anything else.