Letters to the editor – April 2021

April 1st, 2021
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PO Box 36626, Menlo Park 0102

Docex 82, Pretoria

E-mail: derebus@derebus.org.za

Fax: (012) 362 0969

Letters are not published under noms de plume. However, letters from practising attorneys who make their identities and addresses known to the editor may be considered for publication anonymously.

Suggestion: Classifieds

The De Rebus Classifieds section does not offer the support needed in encouraging the setting up of legal practices by the new entrants into the practice world. Considering the restrictions or obstacles encountered around financing a practice (ie, raising funds or sourcing different skills) De Rebus should have a column or platform in the journal where people who wish to set up practices can meet or network.

This would be a great contribution from your part towards the development of the legal profession.

 

Thami Wellington Nene BProc LLB LLM (UP) is a
legal practitioner at Senyema Gwangwa Inc in Pretoria.

 

  • Thank you for the suggestion, which is a great idea. De Rebus will start a ‘Practice Set-up’ column that will allow legal practitioners to network. To be included in the new column send your information to shireen@derebus.org.zaEditor.

 

Legal practitioner’s freedom of expression during the times of social media

I completed my LLB half a decade ago and was very excited to begin the journey of becoming a legal practitioner. The reality of unemployment and lack of job opportunities swiftly extinguished my excitement and I started experiencing frustrations. My frustration was not so much about the lack of opportunities, but it emanated from the lack of access to opportunities that already exist. Naturally I wanted to voice these unfortunate circumstances and preach to the world about my newly acquired wisdoms that came with my struggles. As a graduate in his 20s with a smart phone, I had all the tools necessary to voice my battles on social media. Little did I know that there are certain things one cannot say as a legal professional.

When I voiced my concerns about the unfairness of the requirement for candidate legal practitioners to own a motor vehicle and hold a driver’s licence in order to secure articles of clerkship, I was given counsel by senior lawyers that it was unwise of me to publish such content on social media because prospective employers would never consider my job applications. After receiving this advice, I desisted from posting this on social media as it served as a deterrent and limited my freedom of expression. We all pursue a career because we want to succeed in it and appreciate the necessity to make sacrifices in order to achieve our goals, but is it fair to be silenced because of fear of being unpopular with potential employers?

Our right to freedom of expression is enshrined in s 16 of the Constitution and the limitations to such freedom are clearly outlined. However, often, the limitations to our freedom of expression are not derived from the letter and spirit of the Constitution but from fear of some form of retribution from individuals in positions of control, who oppose the market place of ideas because they are unwilling to listen to new ideas, especially those that seek to persuade them. It is in my view unreasonable to exclude a capable candidate for a job position just because they dare to disagree. How many other issues remain unchallenged elephants in the room?

In order to address issues that continue to haunt the legal profession, opinions and debates must be encouraged. The courage to voice one’s opinions, especially those that are constructive, ought to be rewarded rather than reprimanded. Social media platforms present a good opportunity for legal practitioners to discuss, debate and come up with good innovative ideas that benefit the betterment of the legal profession.

 

Siyakha Plaatyi LLB (UFH) is a candidate legal practitioner at
NT Mdlalose Inc in Johannesburg.

 

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2021 (April) DR 4.

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