ProBono.Org acknowledges legal practitioners who do extra for the less fortunate

November 1st, 2017
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Recipients of the ProBono.Org awards with the National Director of the ProBono.Org, Erica Emdon (standing far left) and former Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan (seated third from left in the front row) and the chairperson of the ProBono.Org, Mohamed Randera (standing back row far right).

By Kgomotso Ramotsho

Chairperson of ProBono.Org, Mohamed Randera, said the intention of the organisation is to acknowledge legal practitioners who have done extra to help the less fortunate and to acknowledge the work that makes a legal practitioner stand out from the rest. Mr Randera was speaking at the fourth annual ProBono.Org awards ceremony held at Exclusive Books in Hyde Park in September.

Mr Randera said the work that legal practitioners do has given life to ProBono.Org and to the legal profession. He pointed out that the pro bono work that legal practitioners do is tremendous and needed to be acknowledged. He said legal practitioners who do pro bono work through the organisation, do it voluntarily and more often than not, they go beyond what is required of them, whether in terms of rules or laws. ‘People give of themselves, much more than they should normally do,’ Mr Randera said.

Mr Randera pointed out that whether legal practitioners who do pro bono work, come from a big law firm or are just individuals, what is important is that they all do pro bono work, be it a case they assisted on at the Constitutional Court or if they drafted a Will. He said pro bono work is important for every single person involved, including the person who the legal practitioner has done work for. However, he noted that more work still needs to be done and pro bono services will be needed even more as inequalities in the country grow and become more pronounced.

Chairperson of ProBono.Org, Mohamed Randera, speaking at the fourth annual ProBono.Org Awards Ceremony.

Mr Randera said that he hopes when the time for more pro bono services of legal practitioners is needed, legal practitioners will be able to meet the call. He noted that what is clear from the pro bono work legal practitioners do is that it contributes towards those people who do not have access to justice.

Former Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, said it was important that organisations such as ProBono.Org continue being built. He said society must not leave it to chance, as many in the country do and say ‘we have a constitutional democracy or Bill of Rights.’ Mr Gordhan pointed out that as much as South Africa (SA) has many institutions, those institutions do not thrive on their own, and he added it takes good leaders, good people with the right kind of social values, ethics and professional integrity, to make sure that the institution moves in the right direction.

Mr Gordhan pointed out that people like him and other democratic activists have gotten themselves into difficult situations for the wrong reasons. However, Mr Gordhan noted that there are legal practitioners who are courageous enough and who are willing to offer their services, even when there is no substantial bank balance to support the kind of fees that might be required. Mr Gordhan said that a new generation of democratic activists are people orientated, whose first concern is whether somebody has a Will, or access to property that is rightfully theirs or whether somebody has access to be defended against blatant injustice.

Mr Gordhan praised the legal practitioners who do pro bono work. He said what they carry with them was the spirit of activism, the spirit of sharing, the spirit of human solidarity and the spirit of serving the public. He pointed out that it was important for people to match the times that they live in and the kind of duties they should perform. Mr Gordhan acknowledged the presence of young legal practitioners who want to see their careers develop. However, he said careers are not just developed through a normal pathway in the profession, but through the balanced development of professionals who do community work.

Former Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, delivering the keynote address at the fourth annual ProBono.Org Awards Ceremony held on 7 September in Johannesburg.

Mr Gordhan said that pro bono work gives opportunities to legal practitioners to balance the attractiveness of quick money, the attractiveness of shortcuts and the attractiveness of doing something that would enrich one to a particular constituent verses taking a harder road and taking a more principal road, that in fact gives joy and satisfaction. He noted that seeing there is joy for ordinary people who are the majority of SA, when they get the little that they can from legal practitioners.

Winners were announced in the following categories –

  • Refugee law: Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr.
  • Housing law: Sonkozi Ngalonkulu Inc.
  • Estate law: Mojela Hlazo Attorneys.
  • Community Advice Office: Ntsu Community Advice Office.
  • Family law: Riva Lange Attorneys.
  • Labour law: Werksmans.
  • Wills: Norton Rose Fulbright.
  • Police brutality: Hogan Lovells.
  • Child law: Ramsden Small Attorneys.
  • Advocate award: Thulamela Group.
  • Large law firm: Fasken Martineau.
  • Medium law firm: Schindlers.
  • Small law firm: Boela van der Merwe.
  • Law student at a University Law Clinic: Lutho Klass of the University of Fort Hare Law Clinic.
  • Law Society of the Northern Province Award: Serialong Lebasa.
  • Legal Aid South Africa Award: Khanyisa Ngobeni.
  • Special mentions –
    • Reg Joubert;
    • Susan Harris;
    • Klopper Jonker Attorneys;
    • Patrick Bracher – Norton Rose Fulbright;
    • Hoossen Sader;
    • Clarks Attorneys;
    • Alfred Wolpe;
    • Fatima Laher – Bowmans;
    • Baker and McKenzie Attorneys; and
    • Robin Twaddle.

Kgomotso Ramotsho Cert Journ (Boston) Cert Photography (Vega) is the news reporter at De Rebus.

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2017 (Nov) DR 6.

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