Dr James Clark: Passionate about his craft as a legal practitioner and a lecturer

April 23rd, 2024

The passing of Legal Education and Development (LEAD)  lecturer and legal practitioner, Dr James Clark, sent a shockwave through the legal profession.


The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) is mourning the passing of one of its long time Legal Education and Development (LEAD) lecturer and legal practitioner, Dr James Clark. News of his passing sent a shockwave through the legal profession. Dr Clark was described as a legend, a legal practitioner passionate about his craft, a wonderful lecturer, and a lecturer steadfast in instilling in his students the dignity and excellence of the profession. Dr Clark had been a practising advocate in the High Court of South Africa for more than 19 years. He was well known for civil and criminal litigation, drafting of contracts and wills and had a passion for drafting contracts and through the LSSA’s LEAD division, and other institutions where he presented extensively on this topic. He was very knowledgeable on the Administration of deceased estates and he had international exposure in the drafting of contracts for the South African government and other international institutions. Dr Clark was also an internationally published author and also published a book titled: Basic Contract Skills, How to draft your own contract.

Some of the messages from his colleagues and students reads as follows: 

Sibongile Moshoeshoe: ‘I am deeply saddened to hear about the untimely demise of Advocate James Clark who has been a true source of inspiration to all his students. He was one such teacher who had his mark on even the laziest of us in the class from day one. Always full of enthusiasm and inspiring us to be larger than life. An ardent patriot, who always motivated students by his example to rise above mediocre things.’


Sapna Lutchman-Maharaj: ‘It was my good fortune to have come across Advocate Clark in my legal career. He was a master of his skill; someone I will always looks up to and be grateful to. He was a beacon of hope as I ventured into the legal field. I feel a great sense of loss as he was a fundamental source of inspiration in the legal world. To Advocate Clark’s family: “I pray that God grants you strength during this difficult time, but I know you can gain comfort from knowing that Advocate Clark has positively impacted so many lives. May Advocate Clark’s soul rest in eternal peace as his legacy lives on in the hearts of his loved ones.”’


LD Harry: ‘In loving memory of Advocate James Clark, a beacon of knowledge and inspiration, your legal skill was remarkable. I was touched by the various threads of law taught, and your hint of a passion for theology. I will always remember you for the impact you made upon myself, you have indeed created a legal legacy, rest in peace, dear Advocate James Clark, you will be dearly missed, but your impact is engraved upon my heart.’


Tshwarelo Golden Ngobeni: ‘I got admitted as an advocate on Wednesday (20 March 2023) because of the knowledge I gained from him. I reflect on his strength in helping us to understand the materials of pupillage both as referral and trust account advocate, which are not only helpful for the advocate’s exam, but also practice. I was lost before, not understanding the advocate’s practice until I did the pupillage programme. Some days he even encouraged us to pray to God to succeed in the advocate career. This courage told me he understood that the intelligence is not ours but a gift from God. I will miss him. His training skills will live with us until the end. May he rest in peace. I pray to God for the family to be strong in this difficult situation of the great loss of the loved Advocate Clark.’


Nompumelelo Abigail Shamase: ‘I am sending the family of Dr Advocate Clark strength during this difficult time. I will always cherish the time I spent in LEAD Class of 2023 for Advocate Admission Exam preparation. I learned a lot from his guidance and work ethics in my profession.’

Sihle Mapukata: ‘Advocate Clark, we were looking at him to mould our future and his great contribution to legal fraternity and transformation as a teacher of law, icon, and our hero. There will be no one to replace his place and this is indeed a great loss not only for the country and loss for body of knowledge. We will miss him for his dedication, love, passion, and contribution to nation building and law transformation for better lives for all of us. May his soul rest in peace and all condolences to his family. We were given him by God and God will heal us.’


LEAD Johannesburg School Principal, Chandika Singh: ‘He was very generous to students at my school. Over the years he donated laptops and books to needy students. Always willing to help us at the school.’


Some of the other sentiments expressed by mourners included:

‘The LSSA Executive Committee (Exco) shared the loss of a person who was not only an instructor and moderator of admission exams, but also did forensic investigation and assisted in many other areas. The Exco express their gratitude and knowing that James was a dominee, we know he left his family with strength in the spirit.’


‘I met James ten years ago when he came to my office to renew his firearm licence. We had some interesting discussions about the [South African Police Service] SAPS and religion. I then discovered he was ex-SAPS and there a beautiful friendship started. I’m fortunate to call James a friend, I met the rest of his family when he invited me to coffee at his house. It was always interesting to chat with James, as he was a very intelligent man and he usually talked about when he was still in service with SAPS, and he would talk about religion which always kept me listening as if he was the only person who knew his Bible. James’s wife once told me that when he was still preaching, he loved to sing, but he did not really have a singing voice, but he thought he had a beautiful voice and sang his heart out. When visiting with them you experienced the love he had for his family.’


‘It came as a huge shock when Janet informed me about James’ death, I could not believe it and immediately felt a great loss for all who knew him. He was a formidable man, with knowledge of so many fields that he could entertain anyone on any topic no matter what was discussed. His was a true gentleman with a generous heart and passion for the profession he had. He was a no-nonsense person who loved to teach others around him, he loved sharing his knowledge. James you are going to be missed my friend, most of all I’ll miss the times you praised my work and our chats while having coffee or tea. Rest in eternal peace, now you are with your Heavenly Father.’

The passing of School for Legal Practice lecturer and legal practitioner, Dr James Clark, sent a shockwave through the legal profession.

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