By Reon Janse van Rensburg
Solidarity’s Legal Guild has warned that the Legal Practice Council’s plans with the draft legal sector code, which is currently under discussion, contain provisions that could potentially cripple legal practices.
With the new draft code, the Legal Practice Council proposes that every lawyer in legal practice who has an annual income of between R3 million and R15 million must perform 200 hours of mandatory pro bono work per annum to remain in good standing with the Legal Practice Council.
It is further proposed that practices earning more than R15 million annually should perform 500 hours of pro bono work every year, while advocates in practices earning more than R15 million are expected to perform 150 hours’ pro bono work during a period of a year.
The Legal Practice Council previously expected of lawyers and advocates to do mandatory pro bono work of 24 hours in a year.
According to IOL, some lawyers and advocates have pointed out that a typical month comprises about 22 working days and that the Legal Practice Council’s proposal of having to spend three of those days to provide free services is not practical or economically feasible.
According to Henru Krüger, sector head for Solidarity’s professional guilds, it would be catastrophic especially for smaller practices because they do not have the capacity to spend so much time on pro bono work and still run their practices successfully. He pointed out that it would ruin one-person practices.
The Legal Practice Council is a regulatory body with jurisdiction over legal practitioners and is supposed to ensure that the integrity and status of the profession is maintained, and the future of the profession is protected.
Solidarity’s Law Guild, however, is concerned about the council’s intentions and warns the council to guard against decisions that would have detrimental consequences for the profession.
“It is clear from the large-scale unhappiness about the pro bono requirements among everyone in the legal sector that the Legal Practice Council has not consulted properly with all role players. The pro bono requirements also discriminate against single practitioners as each of them will be required to perform 200 hours of pro bono work, whereas law firms only have to perform 500 hours in total.” – Henru Krüger, sector head for Solidarity’s professional guilds
Solidarity’s Law Guild has already submitted its comments on the proposed BBE codes and the extension of the pro bono policy for the legal profession.
The guild is opposed to the proposed codes that BEE regulations want to impose on private practices and will take further action if the Legal Practice Council approves the proposal on pro bono work.
Lawyers opposed to extension of pro bono policy – https://www.iol.co.za/sunday-tribune/news/lawyers-opposed-to-extension-of-pro-bono-policy-a918f862-01bc-4295-b097-1250c55c8fed
Regsgilde dien kommentaar teen SEB-oorname in regsberoep – https://solidariteit.co.za/regsgilde-dien-kommentaar-teen-seb-oorname-in-regsberoep/