Never too old for school

May 1st, 2017

Graham Rhodenburg is currently studying towards his LLB degree.

By Nomfundo Manyathi-Jele

Graham Rhodenburg, a 52- year-old grandfather of six, is currently studying towards his LLB degree and believes that one is never too old to follow their dream.

Mr Rhodenburg, who is from the Western Cape, told De Rebus that he is aiming to finish his LLB degree in 2019. His greatest concern is whether there will be a law firm willing to take him on to serve his articles when he is has completed his degree, because of his age.

Mr Rhodenburg served in the South African Police Service for 24 years and has a diploma in Police Administration, which he obtained in 1996. In 2008 he enrolled at the University of South Africa (Unisa) for his LLB degree and in 2009 decided to change direction to do the B-Tech in Security Risk Management also at Unisa, which he suspended in 2013 and still needs four subjects to finish it.

He picked up where he left off with the LLB degree in 2014 and will have finished 20 subjects at the end of 2017 which are spread over first, second and third years.

‘I decided to study law because I always liked to and wanted to help others, especially the vulnerable ones. The fact that one must apply to the High Court to be admitted as an attorney, and also the famous phrase “a fit and proper person”, always appealed to me. The latter also emphasised that attorneys are indeed people of good standing in the community,’ he said, adding that it was a title that he would ‘love to hold’.

Some of the challenges that Mr Rhodenburg is faced with, studying so late in life, is the infamous question of ‘when are you going to finish?’ All the reading and research is also very tiring for him and sometimes his family gets upset with him for not joining them and socialising. He adds: ‘My biggest challenge is not the content for it comes natural to me, and I manage to grasp it quickly. Modern technology is also another challenge that I face.’

Mr Rhodenburg is studying through Unisa. He is currently working as a security officer at a beverages company in Parow. ‘I have realised that education is one way to better yourself and that it is very important to earn more to provide for ones’ family. I am looking at achieving this through studying law,’ he said.

‘My advice to people who feel it is too late to pursue their dreams is simply that it is never too late. One can never be too old to practise law as long as you have a living and real interest in it,’ he said, adding that he has watched all the ‘lawyer movies’ he could lay his hands on.

‘I also follow all high profile cases with a keen interest and more than often predict the correct verdict.’ Mr Rhodenburg has told De Rebus that he also listens to and participates in Afrikaans radio programmes on law.

Mr Rhodenburg believes that whether you are young or old you must have an interest and a passion for what you want to do and that you must not be forced into something, because then you will never succeed. ‘I also strive to score good marks in my subjects so that I can be noticed and can gain advantage over the younger students. I also managed to score a few distinctions and it just shows it can be done,’ he said.

After serving his articles, Mr Rhodenburg would like to specialise in criminal law. He hopes to one day have his own practice.

Nomfundo Manyathi-Jele, Communications Officer, Law Society of South Africa,

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2017 (May) DR 15.