Proposal: Lawyers to help poor

2010-05-07 00:00

LAWYERS in Pietermaritzburg appear to have mixed feelings about a proposal that all newly qualified lawyers may soon have to perform limited compulsory community service as part of their articles, while those with experience will be expected to provide a free service to the poor for a stipulated number of hours per week.

The community service would be rendered in the small claims courts or in rural areas.

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe told political reporters that the proposal is contained in the draft Legal Practice Bill approved by Cabinet this week.

The Bill is aimed at transforming the legal profession.

While some lawyers said the proposal is “not new” and seemed unperturbed, others said it is unfair to expect lawyers, who spend a substantial amount on their studies, to work for nothing. “Most of us have to take out student loans, which we have to repay just like students in other professions,” said one.

Others believe the experience will be good training for young lawyers. 

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