LSSA Synergy Link welcomes commitment of ‘transferring’ firms to the profession’s empowerment initiative

July 1st, 2012

By Barbara Whittle

Several attorneys’ firms have responded to the call from the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) to join its empowerment initiative – the LSSA Synergy Link. At the time of this issue going to print, the LSSA had welcomed Webber Wenzel, Tomlinson Mnguni James, Fairbridges, ENS and Bowman Gilfillan as ‘transferring’ firms.

Former LSSA co-chairpersons Nano Matlala and Praveen Sham, who started the empowerment initiative during their term of office in 2011 by meeting with financial institutions and parastatals, have been delegated by the LSSA to continue the process. They, together with LSSA chief executive officer Nic Swart, convened information sessions about the Synergy Link initiative in various cities in May and June.

By early June, a number of attorneys’ firms, including the above firms, had committed themselves to linking with ‘growing’ firms. Several firms are in the process of registering as ‘transferring’ firms. Selection criteria for the link with each firm are publicised on the LSSA website and are communicated to potential ‘growing’ firms that fit the criteria. The ‘growing’ firms that apply to link to a ‘transferring’ firm are selected by an LSSA selection panel. ‘Transferring’ firms can participate in the selection panel, or leave the selection process to the LSSA.

How the Synergy Link works

The LSSA Synergy Link project envisages a creative relationship between an established, experienced ‘transferring’ firm and a ‘growing’ firm in order to assist the growing firm with guidance in business models, systems and strategy development, as well as transfer of skills in new or boutique areas of legal work. In particular, the ‘growing firm’ must acquire the ability to identify a business idea and transform this into a viable practice opportunity. This requires an understanding of leadership demands, financial management, economic factors and corporate communication. The old-fashioned ‘twinning’ relationship is not envisaged.

The ‘link’

The ‘link’ between two firms will –

  • take place in terms of a written agreement;
  • require the parties to set down their expectations as regards development, location, time and method of transfer (this will include counselling, mentorship, coaching, etcetera);
  • take place for a specific duration;
  • require both parties to report to the LSSA in writing; and
  • ideally, continue after completion of the formal engagement.

‘Transferring firms’ will receive –

  • recognition on the LSSA website;
  • recognition in LSSA newsletters and at any relevant media opportunity;
  • certificates from the LSSA in terms of ‘enterprise development’; and
  • an award from the LSSA.

Full information is available on the LSSA website under ‘LSSA Synergy Link’.

Compiled by Barbara Whittle, communication manager, Law Society of South Africa,

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2012 (July) DR 16.