Associations for the legal profession – how can they help you? Gauteng Attorneys’ Association

February 1st, 2024
x
Bookmark

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 Gauteng Attorneys’ Association.

 

Gauteng Attorneys’ Association

 

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

Our mandate is to serve all legal practitioners (of every political affiliation, race, culture, religion and even where they are members of other organisations). What we do is for the benefit of all legal practitioners, and the public, regardless of race, colour, or creed and regardless of whether such practitioner is a registered member of one of our associations.

We have no political affiliation, or political desire whatsoever. We are open to membership for every attorney and candidate attorney (and in the case of some of the constituent associations, even advocates and their pupils). Our membership is not restricted either racially, culturally, or politically. Our registered members comprise attorneys from across the board. Any person who holds membership in other associations is welcome to join any of the constituent organisations that comprise the Gauteng Attorneys’ Association (GAA). In fact, we welcome this, as we at the GAA have made great effort over the last few years to try and foster better co-operation between the members of the GAA and other organisations at regional/local level. We believe that the more co-operation we have with all associations (of whatsoever nature), the better for the profession and justice.

The GAA takes a very practical stance by rather identifying a challenge instead of seeing a problem. We try providing solutions to our members practical problems, rather than just identifying problems and doing nothing about it. The more members who are actively involved will also give us a stronger voice when dealing with stakeholders.

How many active members does your association have?

The GAA was constituted on 19 July 2018. It is a federation which initially comprised the Johannesburg Attorneys’ Association (JAA) and the Pretoria Attorneys Association (PAA).

The GAA currently comprises the PAA, JAA, West Rand Legal Practitioners Association (WRLPA) and the Soweto Legal Fraternity (SLF), with their respective and combined subcommittees which deal among other things the courts, the Master of the High Court, property law (including difficulties experienced by legal practitioners with the deeds offices and conveyancing in general), the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC), the Registrar of Trade Marks (intellectual property law), legal costs, general legislation, sheriffs, pro bono matters, small claims, library, electronic law, legal education,  transformation and regular liaisons with various other organisations.

We are a federation of voluntary independent associations. Members of the GAA executive committee and subcommittees, as well as those of our sister associations on the GAA, also serve on the LSSA, the Gauteng Provincial LPC, and their respective subcommittees, as well as other institutions.

The JAA represents the interests of 2 500 legal practitioners who conduct business in all courts within the greater Johannesburg cluster, including Soweto, Randburg, Sandton, and the East Rand. The JAA currently has 1 300 registered attorneys as its members and the Association was formed as far back as 1943.

The PAA has 1 600 registered members who practise in the greater Tshwane region, including Pretoria, Pretoria North, Centurion and Mamelodi. The PAA was formed in 1946.

The West Rand Attorneys Association (now known as the WRLPA) was formed in 2003. The WRLPA with its registered 350 members joined the GAA shortly after the GAA’s formation.

The SLF also joined at the same time as the WRLPA. The SLF was founded in the same year as that of the GAA in 2018 and it is a very new organisation which is still trying to find its feet, with the assistance of JAA, PAA and WRLPA.

The GAA is in the process of establishing the East Rand Attorney’s Association and in the meantime the attorneys in the East Rand are represented by the JAA.

The GAA represents at least 3 300 registered members in Gauteng alone, and our numbers are still growing.
The associations, and not their members directly, are the members of the GAA in terms of the GAA’s constitution. Any person who is a member of the constituent organisations, is automatically a member of the GAA.

 

Please give us a summary of your association’s constitution.

The preamble to our constitution reads as follows:

‘Whereas the Executive Board Members of the Pretoria Attorneys’ Association (PAA) and the Johannesburg Attorneys’ Association (JAA) had on the 2nd of February 2018 and at Midrand envisioned the formation of the Gauteng Attorneys’ Association (GAA);

And whereas the JAA and PAA recognise the common purpose and objects of the respective Associations and in light of the transformation and restructuring of the Legal Profession by the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014 as consolidated or re-enacted from time to time, which Act shall include the reference to the Regulations made in terms thereof; And whereas the GAA intends to facilitate and enhance an independent legal profession for the Province of Gauteng, that broadly reflects the diversity of the Republic;

And whereas the founding members of the GAA recognise the constitutional right to freedom of trade, occupation and profession and to practice the trade of a legal practitioner;

And whereas the GAA will comprise a federation of the JAA , PAA and similar Attorneys Associations, where each individual association shall keep its individual identity and members, and which Associations shall form part of this larger Association all of which shall work towards common goals and purposes as set out hereunder; And whereas it is recorded that the West Rand Attorneys’ Association, and Soweto Legal Fraternity, have become associated since the inaugural meeting of 29 August 2018.’

Our constitution has 31 objects, of which the first is: ‘To express its views on matters of common concern to its members and to make representations on behalf of members to any and all bodies and/or organisations such as Government Departments, and Commissions, Ombuds, tribunals, professional structures in the legal profession and other bodies or persons, provided that in doing so, the Association shall not express its views or make representations on matters not directly or indirectly affecting its members or their practices.’

 

How do you engage with your members?

By means of –

  • various WhatsApp groups, each relating to a specific area of the law and/or location;
  • maildrops and other social media such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn;
  • hosting webinars and seminars; and
  • each exco member, convenor of subcommittee members, and the subcommittee members themselves are easily accessible by means of telephone and e-mail and are always eager to assist.

 

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

Candidate attorneys are invited to become involved in our subcommittees and events. The respective associations hosts events such as candidate attorney functions, court tours, and seminars to suit either candidate attorneys’ or female practitioners’ needs. A Female Practitioners Advancement Course was recently hosted by the PAA.

 

What are the challenges your members are experiencing in practice?

Our members face a myriad of challenges across the board, the main issues now being our stakeholders in the judiciary’s poor infrastructure (water, safety), failure to keep up with modern tendencies (Wi-Fi) and our member’s lack of understanding the differences in the roles and responsibilities of the LPC, LSSA and the voluntary associations.

 

What benefits would your members like to receive from the LSSA?

Our members would benefit greatly if the LSSA takes more cognisance of the challenges the average practitioner at grass roots level encounter and how to meet these challenges. These challenges can be identified, and solutions found by working more closely with voluntary associations such as the GAA. It is important that the LSSA has a unified voice focusing on attorneys’ practical needs.

 

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

We intend to grow our membership and organisation by remaining true to our mandate and constitution. We will do so by working towards a more cohesive structure within the Gauteng Province and building on our various subcommittees. We will strive towards strengthening our current relationships with stakeholders. We will endeavour to educate our members that they need to become more involved in the organised side of their 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.

 

X