VIDEO: Meet the boss - Sonja Tifloen, Director at BLC Attorneys

BY JESICA SLABBERT - MARCH 1, 2017
VIDEO: Meet the boss - Sonja Tifloen, Director at BLC Attorneys

BLC Attorneys has a long history of excellence which has seen it establish itself as one of the largest diversified legal firms both in Port Elizabeth and the entire Eastern Cape Province.

Besides adopting modern and efficient legal and business technologies to deliver the best legal services to individuals and local businesses, BLC Attorneys has more than 20 legal staff, who specialise in various fields of the law including Corporate Law, Conveyancing, Estate Planning, Labour Law, Liquor Licensing ,Municipal Zoning, Litigation, Municipal Law, Personal Injury and Insurance Law.

BLC Attorneys also utilises its in house Financial Services company to assist clients meet financial planning needs .This includes personal solutions – Risk, Investment/ Wealth, Retirement, Post-Retirement, to Business Solutions – Risk & Investment and Retirement (Advice for Management & Staff), and General Solutions.

The Business Link editorial team recently had the opportunity to chat to BLC Attorneys Director, Sonja Tifloen, about the firm, her career and the local legal space at their offices along Cape Road, in Port Elizabeth.

Sonja was admitted as an attorney in 2003 and thereafter qualified as a Notary Public and Conveyancer before joining BLC Attorneys in 2009. She is a member of the Port Elizabeth Attorneys Association and the Businesswomen’s Association (BWA) and has served on the Board of the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber.

Sonja was also previously nominated to the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber’s prestigious Top 40 under 40 Achievers in 2014.

Describing how she ended up in the legal field, she said; “This is actually a funny story. I was registered at university to study a Bachelor of Science degree, but after attending lectures for two weeks and writing my first test, I realised that science was not what I saw myself doing for the rest of my life.”

“So, I took a week off from attending any lectures and after doing some soul searching, I decided to re-register for a BProc.degree.”

She told Business Link that BLC Attorneys was established in 1987 as Loon & Connellan and thereafter underwent a few name changes over the years. One of the founders Keith Loon, is still at the firm working as a consultant.

“If we consider that Keith was already practising in the 1960s and we add combined experience of other senior attorneys at the firm younger attorneys at the firm have a substantial support base and this allows for substantial legal presence locally,” added Sonja.

She said that, like any other industry, the legal services sector is also seeing changes brought about by new technologies.

“To be more efficient, we need to continually change with the times. I would say that the changes are a disruption, but also that technology has enhanced and improved the legal sector and business processes,” Sonja explained.

“Things like accounting programmes – research and drafting programmes, allow us to focus on what we love, and that is practicing law and providing excellent services to our clients.”

Asked about some of the challenges and opportunities facing the legal sector locally, she said that all legal firms were trying to stay competitive without contravening the stringent rules imposed on attorneys by the Law society.

“Staying true to the oath we took is important.  As with any industry or profession, with an increase in competition you will find those that straddle the line between right and wrong,” Sonja explained.

“The Legal Practice Act has also brought the possibility of opening up the field of conveyancing to other sectors notwithstanding the fact that it is an extremely specialised service.”

Sonja is passionate about the development of other peopleand women in particular. We asked her how she uses her position to uplift others and she shared that;

“People or women often say it’s lonely at the top.  It’s only lonely at the top if you don’t take other women with you. 

Women must also get over the PHD syndrome- pull her down syndrome. There is enough space at the top for all of us.  I am proud to say that of the 8 directors at our firm – 5 are female.

I was previously a mentor for young entrepreneurs – I believe not only in uplifting women, but all young people. I admire the tenacity and commitment it takes to start and run a successful business.

Our investment in entrepreneurs is an ongoing one. At our quarterly coffee morning we expose clients to success stories - on the 10th of March we are hosting Dawn Nathan of Shark Tank fame. We are focused on empowering businesses and organisations to be successfull.”

When she is away from the office, Sonja spends time with her family – and, every now and again, likes to take time out at a local spa or salon.

Some might say that her love for shoes closely rivals her love for her family.

When asked which of her hundreds of pairs of shoes is her favourite, she joked that ‘it’s impossible to choose, as the saying goes give a girl the right pair of shoes and she will conquer the world, so every pair is special”

For more on what Sonja had to say, watch the video below: