Access to justice in family law field is lacking

June 1st, 2022
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Recently appointed Vice-President of the Law Society of South Africa and divorce and family law legal practitioner, Joanne Anthony-Gooden.

 

Joanne Anthony-Gooden is a divorce and family law legal practitioner who was born and bred in Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth), was recently appointed Vice-President of the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA). She attended Alexander Road High School and matriculated in 1992. She went to the University of Port Elizabeth, now known as Nelson Mandela University, and studied a BJuris LLB and graduated in 1997 and commenced her articles in Gqeberha in 1998. She was admitted as an attorney in December 1999.

Ms Anthony-Gooden commenced practising for her own account in April 2007 as Anthony Incorporated. She changed the firm’s name to Anthony-Gooden Incorporated after she married in 2016. Ms Anthony-Gooden is married to Ian Gooden and has a 22-year-old son who is a third-year cadet pilot.

Anthony-Gooden Incorporated operates in Gqeberha, with an all-female staff of one professional assistant and two candidate legal practitioners. Her firm specialises in family law matters and has a large collections practice. The firm also assists in all spheres of civil litigation, however, the firm’s predominant focus is on divorce, maintenance, variation of primary residence, domestic violence, and adoption law.

Ms Anthony-Gooden is an active member of the Yokhuselo Haven – an organisation whose primary goal is to assist women and children who have been abused. The organisation operates a safe house, which has been running for 34 years and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Ms Anthony-Gooden is passionate about restoration of families.

De Rebus News Reporter, Kgomotso Ramotsho, spoke to Ms Anthony-Gooden about her views on the legal profession.

 

Kgomotso Ramotsho (KR): Congratulations on being elected as one of the Vice-Presidents of the LSSA. Did you ever imagine that one day an organisation, such as the LSSA would be led by an all women team?

Joanne Anthony-Gooden (JAG): Yes, I did believe that women were quite capable of leading an organisation such as the LSSA and I think it will bring a fresh change with a new outlook on several topics.

 

KR: With the events that took place at the LSSA Annual Conference and Annual General Meeting, would you say that men in the legal profession are accepting that women in the legal profession are as capable in leadership positions?

JAG: Absolutely, the men in law have been accepting of the gender transformation of the profession and have encouraged and pushed for the ladies to come forward and be seen and heard in leadership roles. I, myself, have been mentored by many men in the legal profession whose input, advice and guidance have assisted me greatly in my career, as well as within the structures of the profession.

 

KR: You practice in the field of family law, please tell us why you chose that field?

JAG: I love a challenge and I am extremely passionate about fairness and restoration of families.

 

KR: The South African Law Reform Commission has recently handed over the report on Project 142: Investigation into legal fees, including access to justice and other interventions to the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola. The Commission has made recommendations, proposals and listed a number of options regarding tariffs on legal practitioner and clients’ fees. What do you think about some of the proposals and recommendations made?

JAG: Fees are the life blood of any legal practitioner in private practice. Justice must be accessible, but legal practitioners are also entitled to bill a fair and reasonable fee for the work that they have done. I am confident that the legal profession will be able to finalise a fee structure, which is going to be a fair compromise to assist the public, but also enable legal practitioners to generate a living for themselves.

 

KR: You are a lecturer, what do you teach?

JAG: I lecture Matrimonial Property Law.

 

KR: What is the one piece of advice you always give to your law students?

JAG: Law is hard work – it requires dedication and commitment, and you need to keep updated on daily developments in your field as the law is an ever-evolving creature. Be honest, be brave and most of all strive to have effective and meaningful relationships with your colleagues and clients.

 

KR: Do you think the current LLB qualification produces quality legal practitioners?

JAG: No, I believe that LLB graduates require far more practical legal training as most graduates have little or no court experience at the end of their degrees, which solely focusses on the academic side of their qualification.

 

KR: As one of the women leaders in the legal profession, if you had one thing you would like to change, what would it be and why?

JAG: Access to justice in the family law field is seriously lacking. I am seriously concerned as to the delay in finalisation of maintenance matters, as well as the failure of the South African Police Service to act on domestic violence interdicts.

 

KR: Besides law related books, what are you currently reading?

JAG: I have just finished reading Becoming, Michelle Obama’s biography.

 

KR: What can we expect to see from you in the near future in terms of your career?

JAG: I would like to continue to mentor young lawyers and to encourage other attorneys to do the same, to share their skills and to train upcoming legal professionals, and to ensure that there is proper access to justice for women for maintenance and domestic violence matters.

 

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

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2022 (June) DR 19.

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