Local lawyer takes charge to give back this Women's Month

Local lawyer takes charge to give back this Women's Month

Knowing she wanted to be a lawyer at the tender age of three, the limitless Laurel-Lee Pillay has always been determined to achieve her goals. Now at the age of 31, it's only the beginning.

laurel lee pillay

From humble roots and constant motivational speaking from her parents, Laurel-Lee Pillay is set to make strides in her career. 

She's not your typical girl next door; she has ambition running in her veins. She comes from a close-knit family who always has her back, and even when she feels like giving up, they encourage to keep going. Lover of dogs and swimming, Laurel hopes to get back into the water soon. 

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Singing with her dad when he plays the guitar is her most vivid childhood memory, as well as reading books and spending time with her dogs. Her love for law was adopted from her dad, who was a Human Resource Manager and is extremely well versed in political and legal topics. This ignited a flame which never died. 

This Women's Month, she's doing something quite extraordinary for the ladies of KZN. Laurel sat down with us to give us the details. 

Tell us more about yourself... 

I was born and raised in Durban by my parents and I have an older sibling and two dogs, who I love as if they were my own children.

My family and I are very close, our bonding times are when dad makes dinner and we play music and sing along or when dad accompanies my vocals with his guitar. I have always loved to sing.

We were a typical family, I suppose. Other than a routine week of school, homework, and chores, every Sunday after church was family breakfast, which usually included a motivational speech from my parents or some awkward exchange on “the birds and the bees”. Thereafter we would all lounge around reading books that we’d borrowed from our local library.

I fell in love with swimming when I was around 10. I am trying to get back into it these days.

My favourite time of year is the Christmas season. I get to bond with my loved ones and my family simply radiates Christmas spirit.

The greatest gift I was ever given is a family that I can talk to about anything. I never had to be anyone other than who I was. I was always encouraged to be headstrong and steadfast in my ideals, no matter any discouragement that I might receive from my opposition.

I was moulded to be an independent, strong woman, and for those moments when I am tired of being strong, I have strong women to hold me together.

Many of my cousins and I were also very close growing up and we’ve maintained our strong bonds in our adult life. They keep me young at heart, and these days I look forward to my weekly visits with them.

I have a very small circle of friends. In fact, my best friend and I have been friends since High School. Thea and I have an inside joke that God made us best friends because no mother could handle us as sisters. Her faith in me keeps me going, even when I want to quit.

All in all, I am so blessed to have these people in my life.

What made you study law and what did you specialise in? Where did you study and for how long? 

When I was three years old, I decided I wanted to be like my dad. He was a Human Resources Manager but at that age, I did not understand that there was a difference because dad was so well versed with political and legal topics and he really could make an argument out of anything.

I just wanted to be a lawyer and there was no convincing me otherwise. I was very fortunate to know what I wanted to be at three years old. 

As I grew, I became increasingly involved in the work my dad did. I started to learn how to draft affidavits and notices. We didn’t have the kind of money that a full-time University would require so when I completed High School, I took up work with my dad and studied my degree through Unisa. The degree typically takes four to five years to complete. I did mine in 10.

There were days when I wanted to quit. I felt sorry for myself when I couldn’t have the life that others my age had. My parents kept me going.

After I completed my degree, I took up articles with a Durban-based firm, where I primarily worked as a commercial litigator. I discovered that I have a passion for the field.

Tell us more about the initiative that you are involved in for Women's Month?

One Sunday afternoon, whilst I was visiting with Atiyyah, her fiancé, Keshan, was showing me the photographs of his Team Ride and Style Easter 2018 drive and he was explaining what the team was all about and Atiyyah (as his co-founder), and I, began to discuss this meme we saw on social platforms where it was suggested that the next time you have an old purse lying around, do not throw it away.

Rather fill it with lady products and hand it to a homeless woman, the next time you see one. Atiyyah and I discussed that we’d like to do something like that and with Women’s Day coming up, the perfect opportunity presented itself.

Keshan and Atiyyah offered their resources and contacts as Team Ride and Style. They undertake a charity event annually in order to keep up with their objective to give back to their community and Keshan was eager to celebrate the women in his life by giving back to the women who have nobody to turn to. Before we knew it, the idea had gained momentum.

We are still not where we would like to be – with just 80 completed parcels in hand, whereas we wanted 300. We really do appeal to the public and to manufacturers/suppliers of the items on our shopping list (that is, sanitary pads, lotions, roll-ons, wet wipes, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shaving blades, lip balms, hand sanitisers, pocket tissues and plastic bags) to please consider sponsoring the aforementioned items.

Team Ride and Style have agreed to continue lending their support for the whole month of August to commemorate August as Women’s Month. We will pursue our initiative until the end of August, by collecting lady products and distributing to the homeless women within Durban. 

What is some of the other charity work that you’ve been involved in prior to your collaboration with Team Ride and Style? 

I dealt with social responsibility work more privately. I would obtain sponsored meals and deliver them to the homeless men, women, and children on the street.

I also love animals and I take a stand against animal abuse by getting involved with petitions on an international scale, for animal rights.

I am currently planning a Christmas drive as well. Team Ride and Style has graciously agreed to participate and assist as a second charity drive for the year.

Lastly, how can listeners get in contact with you and where can they drop off the handbags? 

Please feel free to contact Keshan on 084 637 3866 or me on 084 660 2230. You may WhatsApp us on those numbers as well. You can also contact us via Facebook.

We have drop off points at SMG Umhlanga (Parts Dept.)(89 Flanders Drive, Mount Edgecombe) and SMG Durban (Parts Dept.)(41 Somtseu Rd).  All assistance will be greatly appreciated

womens day - to the streets

We wish Laurel and her team all the best on their future initiatives! 

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