Associations for the legal profession – how can they help you? Legal Practitioners’ Association of Limpopo Province

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 Legal Practitioners’ Association of Limpopo Province.

 

Legal Practitioners’ Association of Limpopo Province

 

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

It is the Legal Practitioners’ Association of Limpopo Province’s view that the profession must unite and be able to solve problems confronting the profession, namely, business opportunities, access to justice and equitable share and participation in the economy of this country.

In our view, if we are not united as a profession it will be difficult, if not impossible to confront the challenges the profession faces. Just to highlight a few on the importance of a united profession, firstly, the case of Proxi Smart Services (Pty) Ltd v Law Society of South Africa and Others (CC) (unreported case no CCT114/2019, 5-8-2019) (Mogoeng CJ, Cameron J, Froneman J, Jafta J, Khampepe J, Madlanga J, Mhlantla J and Theron J), is but one classical example of how the united profession was able to preserve the work which traditionally must be exclusive work of the legal practitioners. If it was not because of the united profession and participation of the LSSA in this case, the cake of the profession would have been cut into pieces and nothing will be left for conveyancing practitioners. Lastly, and of recent, it is the proposed amendments of the Road Accident Fund, which intend among others removing practitioners from assisting victims of road accident from being assisted to lodge claims and litigate against the fund. Once again as a united profession comments are submitted against the proposed amendment that seeks to close motor vehicle accident practice from the legal practitioners.

Now as a united profession we are able to convene at our local associations, our constituencies, namely, the BLA, NADEL and independents and take resolutions that will be in the best interest of the profession. This will in turn improve service delivery in the profession by the government officials relating to the problems we encounter in our courts and Master’s office to say a few. This is, therefore, among others, the reason why colleagues must belong and unite.

 

How many active members does your association have and how we engage?

Currently we have an active WhatsApp Group with active membership of 158 from all corners of the Limpopo Province. It is through the group that management committee engages with the colleagues on issues of the province. Currently, the group works as a notice board where we share with colleagues’ important correspondence from the LSSA, LPC, judiciary, and the magistracy such comments on proposed amendment to legislation and invitation to colleagues to act as magistrate and the likes. We further share our provincial and local division of our High Court weekly court rolls. Lastly, any matter that is meant for consumption by our colleagues is shared in this group.

Members are encouraged to communicate directly with the management committee and the committee will deliberate on the issues affecting members and the final product will be published in the group.

Recently, we invited members to assist the management committee with the comments of the shortlisted magistrate. We are proud to announce that we have contributed comments, which we hope will address the shortage of the magistrates in our country.

In the future, we plan to have our own website to engage with the broader public and to reach out to more legal practitioners in this large province of ours.

 

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

Our Constitution is structured to allow participation and membership of all practitioners in the province. The constitution encourages membership, which is constituency based, namely, BLA, NADEL and the independents. The management committee is constituted by members of BLA, NADEL and independents with equal representation.

The purpose is to, inter alia, promote the common interests of members having regard always to the broader interest of the public whom the member serves, and to endeavour to reconcile, where they may conflict, the interest of members (as legal practitioners) and the public.

Lastly, to promote legal education, continuing legal education, practical legal education and related research; to grant bursaries to candidate legal practitioners in need of financial assistance; to conduct lectures and seminars for members and to circulate information electronically, or otherwise, which may be of interest to members in their practices.

 

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

Our association is the combination of three constituencies as indicated above. As we are still in the infant stages, the contribution to support young and female practitioners is made at the constituent level and local attorneys association. For instance, the Polokwane Legal Practitioners Association shares legal tender opportunities in its WhatsApp Group. It is our intention that once we are in full swing to partner with the LSSA and the LPC to continue legal education and to raise funds to support young legal practitioners who cannot afford law school fees.

 

What are the challenges your members are experiencing in practice?

The challenges our members are facings are, inter alia, the ever-increasing LPC fees, legal practice membership fees, the financial year audit fees, lack of empowerment of emerging law firms and funding opportunities.

We have seen several of our members being unable to keep up with the costs of running their practices, retrenchments and unavailability of firms to appoint candidate legal practitioners due to the bad economic state of our country, which was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Loadshedding impacts all practitioners’ productivity, service delivery and profit margins. A lack of opportunities, the overstocking of our market and challenges we as practitioners face at courts, government departments, and the deeds offices.

We are hopeful that every challenge can be resolved through dialogue and negotiations, and we say if the profession can unite, nothing will defeat the livelihood of practitioners.

 

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

One of our objectives as the association is to promote legal education, continuing legal education, practical legal education, and related research; to grant bursaries to candidate legal practitioners in need of financial assistance; to conduct lectures and seminars for members and to circulate information electronically, or otherwise, which may be of interest to members in their practices.

We further offer the service of practically assisting practitioners who seek to open a new practice. Furthermore, there is the benefit of being part of a job seekers forum and we could assist with compliance issues, such as Financial Intelligence Centre Act 38 of 2001, Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013, disciplinary matters, audit requirements, and human resources. Making a real difference on the LPC, the Legal Practitioners’ Fidelity Fund, the Legal Practitioners Indemnity Insurance Fund NPC and other important bodies and institutions.

In our view this objective cut across all precursors to the struggle our members particularly, young practitioners and emerging law firms faces. If we can find a partnership with the LSSA, LEAD and the LPC and other formations that have the interest of the profession at heart, we should be able to empower our members and keep their business going.

 

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

To promote legal education, continuing legal education, practical legal education, and related research; to grant bursaries to candidate legal practitioners in need of financial assistance; to conduct lectures and seminars for members and to circulate information electronically, or otherwise, which may be of interest to members in their practices.

To partner with the LPC to offer support to practitioners, engage on the importance of compliance with the LPC rules and the Code of Conduct.

To build our organisation to be a real voice for the real practitioner. To be practical, to make a real difference to our members and the profession.

To acquire membership forms for the Legal Practitioners’ Association of Limpopo Province, please e-mail solly@mmakolamatsimela.co.za or bee.chokoe@gmail.com.

 

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