Procurement protocols for the legal profession adopted

June 1st, 2017
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By Barbara Whittle

The Procurement Protocols, as finalised by the Action Group on Briefing Patterns in the Legal Profession, have been adopted by the profession.

Procurement protocols

Recognising the pernicious and repugnant legacy of Apartheid; race and gender based marginalisation exclusion of black and women legal practitioners; unfair privilege enjoyed by white male legal practitioners; assault and affront to the dignity of black and women legal practitioners; and the structural distortions created in the skill sets of black and women practitioners.

Embracing the constitutional imperative to realise the freedom and equality of everyone and accepting that our inequitable past has produced the economic and skills distortions overwhelmingly favouring white male practitioners to the prejudice of black and female practitioners in the legal profession and now committed to correct that history.

Acknowledging that, objectively measured, the efforts of the legal profession to reverse the imbalances flowing from our past have failed to yield the desired transformation of the legal profession.

Accepting, in particular, that, generally speaking, the transformation initiatives have been met with some reluctance and resistance, on the part of some of members of the legal profession and industry broadly, to empower black and women practitioners. That in line with the foundational constitutional values of equality; the right to equal access; the right for everyone to choose and practise their profession freely.

Decrying the fact that government’s stated objectives structurally to transform the legal profession to reflect, broadly, the demographics of our country, have not yielded the desired outcomes.

Now commit to this protocol and to positively promote the procurement of legal services of black and women practitioners; to actively create better access for black and women practitioners; bridge the skill set deficits, if any, among black and female practitioners; expose black and female practitioners to all areas of the law; help broaden the pool of black and women practitioners; ensuring the fair selection criteria of black and women practitioners; promote change in the attitude so as to include black and women practitioners in the mainstream of practice; in order to progressively realise the achievement of the transformation of the legal profession; to rendering bi-annual reports for the monitoring of compliance with the aims of the protocols, to hold signatories to the protocol accountable, to widen the pool of practitioners and ultimately affect the transformation of the judiciary.

Signatories

Commit your firm to changing briefing patterns and the allocation of legal work in the profession.

The Action Group on Briefing Patterns in the Legal Profession – which comprises representatives of the Law Society of South Africa, the General Council of the Bar, Advocates for Transformation and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development – invites law firms to align themselves with the procurement protocol on briefing, which has been adopted by the legal profession.

Representatives of law firms with a mandate to sign their firms’ commitment to the protocol will be invited to an official signing ceremony to be held in June. Alternatively, you can download, complete and return the form to us and your firm will be included in the list of law firms that have committed to the protocol on the LSSA website.

For a copy of the protocol and to signal your commitment to changing briefing patterns and the allocation of legal work, please e-mail: briefing@LSSA.org.za before 9 June 2017.

The protocol and ‘expression of interest’ form can also be accessed on the LSSA website at www.LSSA.org.za.

For more information e-mail briefing@LSSA.org.za

Barbara Whittle, communication manager, Law Society of South Africa, barbara@lssa.org.za

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2017 (June) DR 18.