What is the relevance of the LSSA?

March 1st, 2021

I have written two editorials on the existence of the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) and the duties the organisation performs through its different departments, namely De Rebus, Legal Education and Development (LEAD), Professional Affairs and support services (communications, marketing, human resources and finance). The pertinent questions to consider are:

  • Does the legal profession need the LSSA?
  • Is there any relevance to the existence of the LSSA?

To answer these two questions, one only has to look at the gap that would be left in the profession should the LSSA cease to exist. For starters, the LSSA speaks nationally on behalf of the attorneys’ profession, through press releases and media interviews. If the LSSA does not exist, the profession would lose the link it has with the national media. The organisation also provides leadership and support to the profession through policy development and stakeholder relations. The stakeholder relationships the LSSA holds with many organisations has resulted in fruitful discussions that have been beneficial for the legal profession. If these relationships are lost, decades of institutional knowledge would be lost too.

On a national level – that is to the benefit of the profession and the public – the LSSA assists by interrogating and making input on policy and draft legislation in the interest of the public. The LSSA also plays an advocacy role for the profession when it engages and lobbies stakeholders and other organisations to ensure that attorneys are not met with obstacles while being officers of the court, this is also to the benefit of the public.

In the interest of ensuring rule of law, the LSSA protects and promotes democracy by protecting and promoting the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession. The organisation does this by supporting the efficient administration of the justice system.

In terms of legal education, the LSSA publishes De Rebus, the attorneys’ journal, which has an array of legal education information and is a great research tool, which is used as an authority in court. De Rebus is not a mere journal that is used for research, many attorneys who cannot afford libraries, rely on De Rebus as their source of information in order to work at their optimum best. The organisation does more to ensure the professional development of the legal profession organisation through LEAD. This is done to empower attorneys to provide excellent legal services to the community in an ethical, professional, considerate and competent manner. The LSSA –

  • is the premier provider of relevant and affordable continuing professional development for attorneys and candidate attorneys;
  • provides practical vocational training to over 1 400 candidate attorneys a year;
  • has ten Centres of the School for Legal Practice, namely, Bloemfontein, Polokwane, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Potchefstroom, East London, Pretoria and Johannesburg, as well as a distance training centre in cooperation with Unisa;
  • is accredited as the premier provider of other practical legal training courses (PLT) for candidate attorneys in terms of the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014 (LPA);
  • is accredited as the premier provider of subsidised Practice Management Training (PMT) for mandatory practice management in terms of the Legal Practice Act;
  • maintains standards by setting examination papers for the Attorneys Admission, Conveyancing and Notarial Professional Competency-Based Examinations for Attorneys;
  • maintains a national database on statistics and trends in the attorneys’ profession; and
  • assists in the placement of candidate attorneys through its LEAD division and free CV placements in De Rebus.

My subjective view as the editor of De Rebus is that, there is a need for the LSSA, no other organisation performs all the duties listed above. The LSSA is truly committed to building a better legal profession for all. The relevance of the LSSA would be felt for years to come if it ceases to exist. Like any other organisation, the LSSA could be doing more and can improve on the functions it performs; this can only be done with the guidance of the profession. What more should the LSSA be doing for the profession? Send your views to mapula@derebus.org.za.

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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 2 000 words.
  • Upcoming deadlines for article submissions: 23 March, 19 April and 17 May 2021.

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2021 (March) DR 3.