Melanie Killian, a conveyancer with heart from Fairbridges Wertheim Becker Attorneys in Cape Town, is an inspiration to her colleagues and clients. Her passion is to help and to give great service to people of all budgets, regardless of their background.
“At Fairbridges, we believe it is important to take on clients based on their needs, not on their money in the bank.”
Melanie has always had a keen interest in history and the law. She was the first in her family to pursue a career in the field inspired by her favourite legal television shows such as Matlock and LA Law. After she completed her schooling at Paarl Girls High, she studied for a Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Stellenbosch followed by her LLB degree.
Upon graduating, she joined a small firm at the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, to complete her articles. While working at the firm she was exposed to the world of property, which would later define the course of her career. She would often attend sales in execution and assist with various other projects in the company. After two years, she was offered an opportunity to establish a new firm in the Northern Suburbs, on condition she passed her conveyancing exam.
Melanie decided to take on the challenge and enrolled for the Conveyancing exam. She knew it was not going to be easy, but with much determination and a great number of hours of study, she passed her exams with flying colours.
She took on a short-term position at Miltons Matsemela Attorneys, another small firm in Cape Town, for the period before starting at the law firm with Jacques Viljoen. Working at Miltons was a huge turning point in her career: as it was here that she discovered her true love for property conveyancing. Although Melanie knew that she always wanted a career in law, she also knew the friction involved in litigation was not for her.
After two months of training at Miltons she started the conveyancing department at Jacques Viljoen Attorneys, in the Northern Suburbs.
Six years later, she decided it was time to move on and she joined Jooste Marais Attorneys, an all-female practice in Cape Town as an associate. Jooste Marais was a development company that focused on conveyancing. Due to the emphasis on property developments, her enthusiasm for conveyancing grew stronger and she excelled in her work. But following the market recession in 2010, property developments decreased, and Melanie was looking for another challenge.
At the same time, Fairbridges was looking for a Conveyancer to take over the practice of one of their long-standing Conveyancers and Melanie was the right fit for the position as Fairbridges Wertheim Becker Attorneys was a well-established, medium-sized firm with a great reputation in the field of law.
At Fairbridges Wertheim Becker Attorneys, she faced challenges, rode a wave of achievements and had career-altering experiences. Coming from a background of working for small law firms, working at Fairbridges exposed her to a wider field of law.
“Fairbridges has a variety of departments such as litigation, commercial, estates, intellectual property, collections and the administration department,” says Melanie, “which provides the opportunity to observe and experience other areas of law.”
Since joining Fairbridges Werthiem Becker Attorneys, Melanie has had many opportunities that would not have been available at a smaller firm. Last year she assisted a client with the declaration of certain areas in the country as nature reserves.
Your exposure to different types of clients and areas of law is broader, for instance, the litigation department would refer a property transaction which could involve residential as well as commercial property.
“When I took over Anne’s practice, I inherited work registering mortgage bonds for clients of Investec. I had done mortgage bonds registrations for other firms but dealing with clients of Investec was really interesting.” She describes conveyancing as a business. “They say conveyancers are like Switzerland, says Melanie, “We act for both the property buyer and the seller on neutral ground.”
Property conveyancing involves defined steps and procedures – which suits Melanie’s “pedantic, OCD” character. “I like structure, I like routine. What’s wrong is wrong and what is right is right,” she says emphatically.
Customer service is an important focus area of Fairbridge Wertheim Attorneys and she would not have it any other way. She gains job satisfaction from ensuring the right steps take place at the right time for the right outcome and in this way is able to provide excellent customer service.
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