Associations for the legal profession – how can they help you? Eastern Cape Provincial Legal Practitioners Association

February 1st, 2024

In the previous issue of SA Lawyer, the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) approached legal associations in South Africa (SA) to tell us more about their associations (see ‘Associations for the legal profession’ 2022 (Sept) SA Lawyer 9).

In this issue, Production Editor, Kathleen Kriel, continues with the article and spoke to the Eastern Cape Provincial Legal Practitioners Association.


Eastern Cape Provincial Legal Practitioners Association


What is the importance of being a part of your association?

Being a member of the Eastern Cape Provincial Legal Practitioners’ Association offers several key benefits. It provides a platform for legal practitioners to have a voice in the legal community, allowing them to actively address and influence ongoing issues within the legal profession. The association also plays a crucial role in keeping members informed about educational courses, regulatory changes, and trends in the legal landscape, helping them stay competitive and updated in their practice. Membership provides opportunities for networking with peers, which can lead to knowledge sharing, collaboration, and professional opportunities, such as correspondent work that can generate additional income. The association fosters mentorship and support, benefiting young and less experienced practitioners, and offers pathways for professional development and leadership roles through committee involvement. Being a part of our association is vital for professional growth, networking, and staying at the forefront of the legal profession.


How many active members does your association have?

Currently, we have 2 384 practising attorneys, 541 non-practising attorneys, and 1 545 law firms in the Eastern Cape. While not all attorneys are active members, the local circles, including East London and Mdantsane, Gqeberha, Wild Coast, Komani, and Makhanda attorneys’ associations, are very active, serving as a means of engagement for our members.


Please give a summary of your association’s constitution.

The first management committee was elected in 2022. The association is affiliated with the LSSA. While it is affiliated with LSSA, the association can act independently. Its primary goals are to promote the transformation of the legal profession, maintain high standards and the profession’s prestige, encourage commitment to delivering quality legal services to all clients, provide fair pro bono services to indigent clients, and enhance an independent legal profession that operates ethically and responsibly in the province. The management committee comprises a minimum of six and a maximum of nine members, with representation from the Black Lawyers Association (BLA), the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL), and the independent practitioners who are not members of the BLA and NADEL.


How do you engage with your members?

We engage with our members through active communication with local circles who serve as intermediaries for information dissemination. Additionally, we conduct hybrid meetings to ensure that members across the vast province can participate. Social media platforms are also used to keep members informed and engaged.


How does your association support young legal practitioners and female legal practitioners in the profession?

Our association is committed to supporting young legal practitioners by establishing a mentorship programme, connecting them with senior practitioners who volunteer to share their expertise. We encourage members to facilitate young professionals’ attendance at LSSA workshops and seminars by covering nominal fees. To support female practitioners, we are creating a dedicated support group where they can connect, share experiences, and address unique challenges. We are also attentive to issues raised by stakeholders, such as the South African Women Lawyers Association and act where necessary.


What are the challenges your members are facing in practice?

Our members face several challenges, including issues related to loadshedding, communication delays from the Master’s office, difficulties in litigating against the Road Accident Fund, and concerns about the operation of the Sheriff’s office. In Mthatha, specific issues include delays in the typing of court orders, lost court files, and challenges with the state attorney’s payment of taxed bills.


What benefits would your members want to receive from LSSA?

Our members wish the LSSA to continue providing ongoing legal education through workshops and seminars within the province. They also seek the LSSA’s support in addressing pressing issues, such as loadshedding, challenges with the Masters’ office, the Sheriff’s office, and litigating against the Road Accident Fund, by intervening and liaising with relevant departments.


What plans do you have for your members for the future?

In the future, we plan to maintain ongoing engagement with members, keeping them informed about our goals, and seeking their input to shape these objectives in line with our constitution. We aim to ensure the association’s self-sustainability and plan to host networking events and mentorship programs to support our members in their professional journeys. The association further endeavours to promote diversity and inclusion in the profession.


Kathleen Kriel BTech (Journ) is the Production Editor at De Rebus.

This article was first published in SA Lawyer in 2024 (January) DR 10.


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