Attorneys Development Fund progress

May 1st, 2014
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By Mackenzie Mukansi

We are pleased to have started the new year on an enthusiastic pace. It is humbling to notice that the Attorneys Development Fund (ADF) is not only attracting applications from single practitioners but, also from partnerships. This indicates the growth of the organised profession. We are thriving to change the way in which we communicate with our shareholders, clients and prospective clients, thus this platform is afforded us.

There has been a great change in the way that we assist practitioners, the most significant being that the ADF considers applications on an on-going basis as opposed to the past where applications were received and approved on a quarterly basis. Our turnaround time for processing applications has improved to less than seven days, at times, due to the commitment and constant availability of our board of directors and relevant subcommittees that vet these applications.

The ADF Board’s decision to change this system is applauded as a significant step towards ensuring access to justice bearing in mind that when we expedite setting up of a new firm, we are in fact adding to the pool of practitioners equipped to be agents in the pursuit of justice that communities require.

In the near future we will be communicating with our existing clients through De Rebus where clients will share with us their progress since they received funding from us.

About the ADF

Established in 2011, the ADF, is a joint venture between the Attorneys ­Fidelity Fund (AFF), the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) and its six constituent members, namely the –

  • Black Lawyers Association;
  • Cape Law Society;
  • KwaZulu-Natal Law Society;
  • Law Society of the Free State;
  • Law Society of the Northern Provinces; and
  • National Association of Democratic Lawyers.

The ADF is an independent Section 21 company (association not for profit) and was set up through contributions from the AFF and the provincial law societies. A board of directors governs the ADF, which consists of representatives from the above organisations.

What office equipment is provided?

The equipment provided depends on the needs of the law firm. Below in table 1 is the list of equipment currently supported and or offered by the ADF to law firms. The ADF reserves the right to change the allocation and or maximum benefit.

Office equipment Dependent on evaluation and approval by the board, the maximum amount that may be approved by the ADF including the following resources is currently a maximum of R 40 000 (VAT included).
A desk-top computer or a laptop
3G data card (or Telkom ADSL)
Legal accounting software
Four-in-one printer, copier, fax and scanner
Office furniture
Telkom line

Table 1: The list of equipment currently supported and or offered by the ADF to law firms

What is the repayment period?

The cost of the equipment, including interest is repayable by the law firm over a maximum period of three years (applicants can elect not to make any repayments in the first year). Repayments are made at regular intervals as agreed with the ADF and the ADF reserves ownership of equipment until the full amount is repaid in full by the law firm.

The current interest rate charged by the ADF is the prime lending rate minus 3% and is calculated as envisaged by reg 40(1) of the regulations made in terms of the National Credit Act 34 of 2005 (ie, interest will be calculated daily and will be added to the deferred amount monthly, at the end of the month). No interest is to be debited in the first 12 months. Interest to accrue only after 12 months.

How often are applications assessed by the board?

Law firms can submit their applications to the ADF at any time during the year. The applications are considered by the ADF on an on-going basis and not on a quarterly basis as it was previously.

What are the application criteria?

The applicant must –

  • be an admitted attorney practising or intending to practice;
  • be without own funds or assets to finance the law firm’s operational needs;
  • provide a business plan, marketing plan and cash flow statement;
  • have the capacity to –

– become an efficient and proficient attorney;

– learn how to establish and run a successful business;

– conduct a sustainable practice;

  • be willing to be mentored and trained further and monitored continuously;
  • recognise and accept his or her responsibility to repay the full amount;
  • be within acceptable margins as a business risk. If an applicant has a poor credit bureau record, this will negatively affect his or her chance of receiving the ADF support;
  • be in good standing with his or her statutory, provincial law society; and
  • have registered for, or be exempted from, or have undertaken to enrol for the mandatory Practice Management Training.

The applicant must note that no direct cash requests will be considered and the ADF reserves the right to request additional information and/or details about any information provided.

Mackenzie Mukansi, Manager, Attorneys Development Fund

Tel: (012) 366 8856

E-mail: Mackenzie@adf.za.net

Website: www.adf.za.net

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2014 (May) DR 28.

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