One of the most interesting sessions held during the Law Society of South Africa's (LSSA's) annual general meeting (AGM) was the panel discussion on developments and trends in the information technology (IT) and electronic environment (see p 7). It is without a doubt that for any law firm to survive in this day and age, big or small, it needs to have access to functional software and hardware that will enable it to stand out from the rest. Technology has the potential to increase functionality in any firm, therefore enabling attorneys to process and deal with cases expeditiously and in turn increasing access to justice.
National Credit Act : rental agreement - a wolf in sheep's clothing? - Hannes du Bois
Inter-company loans and suretyships : getting caught by the new Companies Act - Derrick Kaufmann
Barring of CAs from CCMA proceedings disconcerting - Siphiwe Ntuli
Concerns regarding appointment of pro bono acting judges in the labour court
Ukuthwala - Ambrose Mfayela
The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) held its annual general meeting (AGM) on 28 and 29 March in Bloemfontein. Presenters and delegates debated issues of importance in the law profession under the heading: 'A changing profession in a changing environment'. Topics discussed included the impending Legal Practice Bill, the relationship between Southern African Democratic Community Lawyers Association (SADC LA) and the law societies of the SADC region, speedy delivery of justice, attorneys making a profit, judicial independence, the Office of the Public Protector and the use of information technology (IT) in law firms.
The Office of the Chief Justice held a workshop on judicial case-flow management in Kempton Park in March. The main aim of the workshop was to review progress to date following the implementation of the judicial case-flow management pilot project in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and the North West in October 2012.
Justice Minister Jeff Radebe gave an update on the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster in parliament in March where he outlined various accomplishments of the cluster in the 2012/13 financial year.
Taxpayers who feel that they have been unfairly treated now have an avenue to air their grievances. The first ever South African Office of the Tax Ombud was officially launched on 7 April by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
The Swaziland Civil Society recently held a media briefing in Johannesburg on 11 April to voice their concerns about the Swazi judiciary. The media briefing was prompted by the ongoing saga pertaining to the arrests in March of human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, and the editor of monthly publication, The Nation magazine, Bheki Makhubu, for articles published in the February and March editions of the magazine.
The University of South Africa's College of Law and the Institute for Dispute Resolution in Africa (IDRA) hosted a colloquium on 'humanising legal education and practice' in Pretoria in March. The speaker at the event was jurist and author Kim Wright who spoke about the manner in which integrative law models are being applied in a range of practice areas, from restorative justice in the criminal context to collaborative law in divorce matters and mindful value-based contracts in business.
On 20 March, delegates from the Botswana Law Society visited the Legal Education and Development (LEAD) offices in Pretoria. Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) Chief Executive Officer, Nic Swart and Kathleen Matolo-Dlepu, former Co-chairperson of the LSSA welcomed the delegation.
Acting Judge President Nathan Erasmus initiated a series of knowledge-sharing sessions in the Free State High Court, the first of which was held in February. Stakeholders representing various role players in, inter alia, the criminal justice process attended the initial session and participated in a collaborative effort to deal practically with challenges of an effective justice system.
In June 2004, the department of procedural law and law of evidence of the faculty of law at the University of the Free State (UFS) devised a moot competition that would be unique in legal education. Not only was it to be for first-year law students but it had to be as close as possible to a real appearance in the South African higher courts.
Lawyers sell legal services. However, while lawyers pay due attention to their legal services, they do not think much about the sales process. Legal services do not sell themselves. If you want to improve or increase your sales, you should enhance your understanding not only of what you are offering for sale, but how best to sell it. In fact, the sale is an integral part of the service.
If you are in the rare and fortunate position of never having had a professional indemnity claim against your practice, your answer to the above question would probably be 'no'. Most practices have, however, faced the stark reality of such a claim at one time or another.
We are pleased to have started the new year on an enthusiastic pace. It is humbling to notice that the Attorneys Development Fund (ADF) is not only attracting applications from single practitioners but, also from partnerships. This indicates the growth of the organised profession. We are thriving to change the way in which we communicate with our shareholders, clients and prospective clients, thus this platform is afforded us.