On 16 March, councillors of the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) attended a special council meeting to discuss the role of the organisation post the full enactment of the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014 (LPA). The meeting was also attended by representatives of the National Forum on the Legal Profession, the Attorneys Fidelity Fund and the National Executive Council of the Black Lawyers Association (BLA). The aim of the meeting was to answer one question: Should the LSSA continue its functions as a transitional organisation post the LPA?
During the preceding months of the 16 March meeting, the Co-chairpersons of the LSSA consulted with various law societies to discuss the future of the LSSA. According to the Co-chairpersons, during their consultations, the Cape Law Society said that the LSSA should continue for the next ten years while the other provincial law societies agreed that the LSSA should continue in a transitional role. The BLA raised an objection that the Co-chairpersons consulted other constituent members of the LSSA, while the BLA was not afforded the same opportunity.
During the special meeting, the Co-chairpersons tabled a proposal that the LSSA should continue for at least three years from 1 January 2018. The Co-chairpersons highlighted the fact that the functions performed by the LSSA cannot disappear because the legal profession would stand to lose.
Functions of the LSSA
If the LSSA ceases to exists and no other organisation takes on the below functions, this is what the profession stands to lose.
The LSSA has three support departments, namely, finance, human resources and communication. Other departments are:
Legal Education and Development (LEAD)
For attorneys, LEAD conducts –
For candidate attorneys, LEAD conducts courses at its ten centres of the School for Legal Practice and e-LEADer e-learning.
Other services rendered by LEAD include –
The Professional Affairs department coordinates and supports the activities and representations of LSSA specialist committees. The committee members are practising attorneys and experts in their fields of practice. The department initiates and comments on issues and legislation that affect the legal profession and the public (for example, the Proxi Smart matter see 2016 (Dec) DR 3). The department also liaises with Parliament and stakeholders and coordinates special projects.
De Rebus has been the South African Attorneys’ Journal published 11 times a year by the LSSA, for the last sixty years. It is distributed to all practising and candidate attorneys free of charge, and is also sent to other stakeholders, as well as to paying subscribers. Its content is invaluable to the profession.
Outcome of 16 March meeting
The BLA noted that it needed to consult with its members in order to answer the question whether the LSSA should continue its functions as a transitional organisation post the LPA. Once the BLA has consulted with its members, it will then answer the question at the next LSSA annual general meeting, which will be held on 21 – 22 April. The BLA had, on 4 February, resolved not to take part in the formation of the professional interest organisation (see ‘A new home for legal practitioners: What’s in it for you?’ 2016 (Nov) DR 3).
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This article was first published in De Rebus in 2017 (April) DR 3.