How does the Law Society of South Africa fulfil its functions?

December 1st, 2020

In the November Editorial, ‘What does the Law Society of South Africa do?’ 2020 (Nov) DR 3, I wrote about the functions performed by the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) for the enhancement of the legal profession. The LSSA performs its duties through the different departments it has, below is an overview of its different departments.

Legal Education and Development (LEAD)

The LSSA’s legal education division, LEAD, offers Practical Vocational Training (PVT) programmes to candidate legal practitioners, through the PVT Schools and the 23-day PVT short course to prepare candidates in PVT contracts for the attorneys’ admission examinations. In addition, LEAD also offers post-admission training programmes to practising legal practitioners to keep abreast of developments in the profession and to ensure the standards of practice in the profession are maintained and enhanced.

The recent lockdown, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, interrupted most, if not all, of the LEAD training programmes. This has required LEAD to come up with a new mode of training that would address the ‘new normal’ in the training space. At some of the PVT Schools based at universities around South Africa, access to campuses was only recently allowed. In an endeavour to remain relevant and continue offering quality training programmes to legal practitioners, LEAD will be presenting webinars and online training. LEAD can present courses at a reduced rate through its online portal called eLeader.

PVT Programmes: All the programmes that were interrupted during lockdown are now presented through blended learning, which is a combination of online and reduced contact sessions.

Registration for programmes: Due to the pandemic, LEAD received a few requests from legal practitioners who said they could not afford to pay the total fee on registration. LEAD allowed them to pay a minimum amount for registration (this varied per applicant, based on their motivation) and pay the balance over a few instalments. This gesture was appreciated by the applicants.

De Rebus

The De Rebus journal, which is available free of charge to legal practitioners, has been published digitally since March 2019. This change, which the legal profession has met with positivity, can be seen by the number of articles received and the circulation statistics during the pandemic. Its goal is to be an independent and questioning observer of the legal profession. Its editorial content is authoritative, frank and sometimes contentious. It strives to present a comprehensive overview of developments in the legal profession.

Above all else, the main goal of De Rebus is to be an educational tool for the profession and to be used for research purposes confirming its longevity in the hands of its reader. Because De Rebus is a journal, it means that readers refer to it more than once for research purposes. The digitisation of the journal makes researching articles in the journal easier for the profession and allows for immediate release of information that is of importance to the profession.

Professional Affairs

The LSSA’s Professional Affairs Department coordinates and supports the activities and representations of the LSSA’s 35 specialist committees. The committee members are practising legal practitioners and experts in their fields of practice. The department initiates and comments on issues and legislation that affect the legal profession and the public. The department liaises with Parliament and other stakeholders and also coordinates special projects for the benefit of the legal profession.

Is there a need for the LSSA?

As can be seen from the November and current editorial, there are many functions that are performed by the LSSA, which the legal profession would surely miss should they no longer be fulfilled. Legal practitioners may not be aware of all the hard work performed by the LSSA in the background. However, the effects of this hard work is felt when engagements with stakeholders bears fruits or when legal practitioners utilise the many legal education avenues provided by the LSSA, which includes the De Rebus, which you are currently reading. The question is, will legal practitioners survive without the LSSA?

The De Rebus Editorial Committee and staff wish all of our readers compliments of the season and a prosperous new year.

De Rebus will be back in 2021 with its combined January/February edition, which will be available at the beginning of February 2021.

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2020 (Dec) DR 3.