A new home for legal practitioners: What’s in it for you?

October 24th, 2016
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Mapula Thebe – editor

Mapula Thebe – editor

On 1 February 2018 the Legal Profession in South Africa will enter a new era and will be regulated in terms of the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014 (LPA), through the Legal Practice Council (LPC). The purpose of the LPA is to create a single national statutory body. All legal practitioners will be subject to the regulatory authority of the LPC.

As a result of the LPA coming into full operation, the statutory provincial law societies and Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) will fall away.

The formation of a broad-based professional interest association is imperative to represent the interests of practitioners and to position and promote the legal profession as the rule of law champion, protector and promoter of constitutional rights.

In 2015, the constituent members of the LSSA were consulted on whether there was a need for such an association. This led to the unanimous resolution this year to establish an independent professional association to –

  • represent;
  • add value to; and
  • speak on behalf of legal practitioners.

The LSSA has a Task Team working on this.

The representative body will need to be established and be in place before the implementation of the LPA in early 2018.

The LSSA constituents have approved a working document to serve as the basis for discussions. This is not the constitution of the association as that will be developed.

The guiding principles are the core principles that will guide the association throughout its life in all circumstances, irrespective of changes in its goals, strategies, leadership and type of work. These are:

  • Ensure independence of the profession.
  • Recognise the status, dignity, value and role of legal practitioners in creating a just society (advocacy).
  • Promote high standards of practice.
  • Promote a culture of professional development.
  • Commit to a code of ethics.
  • Respect for transformational imperatives.
  • Promote and protect constitutional values.
  • Strengthen regional and international engagement.
  • Respond dynamically to change.
  • Ensure best practice in governance.

The organisation, members and brand need to be developed in consultation with the profession. These three aspects are separate but interlinked to each other.

The organisational aspects will relate to:

  • Vision and mission.
  • Value proposition (this is the value that members will derive from their membership, including the portfolio of programmes, services and initiatives to be delivered and undertaken).
  • Leadership and governance.
  • Sustainability of the association and business processes.

The members – this relates to you as members:

  • Most important – member needs need to be ascertained and sensitivities taken into account.
  • Perceptions among and behaviours of members that underlie the service offerings to be provided.
  • Engagement and consultation with members.
  • The benefits that members will derive, as well as their experiences in interacting with the Association.

The brand – this will be:

  • The means of identification (the logo and name) and recognition by outside stakeholders.
  • Positioning and ideology of the association.
  • Building relationships and goodwill with members, stakeholders and the public.
  • The public image and reputation of the association.

The association will represent you by –

  • having influence with regard to legal and other issues;
  • speaking nationally and with a united voice;
  • representing and promoting practitioners’ rights and the value of their work;
  • identifying and serving their common interest; and
  • ensuring liaison with the LPC.

The association will promote you by –

  • promoting a constructive, powerful image for the profession;
  • promoting the value of services rendered by practitioners;
  • providing affiliation at international, national and regional levels; and
  • providing professional networking and liaison opportunities.

The association will support you by –

  • providing accessible and affordable professional education and development: Vocational and continuing professional development;
  • providing business and practice support;
  • providing agency services for the profession (where the LPC or others will outsource work to the association); and
  • ensuring research, investigation and input to legislation.

Practitioners have a small window of opportunity to shape the future of the profession now. The next step will involve ongoing information-sharing and consultation with the profession. Practitioners will be consulted through online surveys and some direct contact, both through the LSSA and the provincial law societies. The feedback received from these information-sharing and consultation sessions will help develop the value proposition to best suit the needs and requirements of the profession. This much needed ‘new home for legal practitioners’ will only be established through the help of all legal practitioners.

For more information see www.LSSA.org.za under the section ‘Legal practitioners’ and  follow the link ‘A new home for legal practitioners’. Alternatively e-mail LSSA@LSSA.org.za and the Task Team members steering this process, will respond to your questions.

 

Would you like to write for De Rebus?

De Rebus welcomes article contributions in all 11 official languages, especially from legal practitioners. Practitioners and others who wish to submit feature articles, practice notes, case notes, opinion pieces and letters can e-mail their contributions to derebus@derebus.org.za.

The decision on whether to publish a particular submission is that of the De Rebus Editorial Committee, whose decision is final. In general, contributions should be useful or of interest to practising attorneys and must be original and not published elsewhere. For more information, see the ‘Guidelines for articles in De Rebus’ on our website (www.derebus.org.za).

  • Please note that the word limit is 2000 words.
  • Upcoming deadlines for article submissions: 22 November 2016 and 23 January 2017.

 

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2016 (Nov) DR 3.

 

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