Rethink law education, Chief Justice tells UKZN

2010-10-25 00:00

THE teaching of law must move from regurgitation of notes to practical instruction, “which equips students with the necessary technical skills to assist communities in real- life situations”.

So said Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo during his keynote address at a gala dinner to celebrate 100 years of teaching law in the faculty of law at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, at the Pietermaritzbur­g Royal Showgrounds on Saturday.

Ngcobo addressed a law centenary reunion gala dinner that brought together law graduates from the former universities of Durban-Westville and Natal, and those of the UKZN.

He said law graduates should come out of law school not as receivers of information, but as people who can apply knowledge to real-life legal problems.

“The new constitutional order … places many demands on legal professionals. The development of legal minds equipped to respond to these demands begins here. It starts in the lecture rooms.”

“Law graduates must emerge from university able to analyse judicial decisions, write clearly, critically and persuasively and perform thorough legal research.

“A law student, when presented with a factual scenario, must, as second nature, consider the constitutional implications, relevant statutes, the common law and decided cases …” South Africa cannot afford to produce lawyers who are unfamiliar with the Constitution.

Ngcobo said legal academics are needed to critically analyse the jurisprudence of the courts, “pointing out any flaws which might arise and to train well-equipped legal practitioners.”

He urged UKZN to re-examine its methods of legal education and the scope of that education, and to put emphasis on legal performance as well as legal principles.

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