Attorneys and lawyers in South Africa operate under the regulatory framework of the Legal Practice Council (LPC), established by the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014 (LPA). Over the years, the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) has played a pivotal role in representing the attorneys’ profession, bringing together various constituent members into a cohesive national body.
Law Society of South Africa (LSSA)
The LSSA’s roots can be traced back to the Association of Law Societies of the Republic of South Africa, which served as the predecessor from 1938 to 1998. Since March 1998, the LSSA has represented the attorneys’ profession by uniting its six constituent members, which include the Black Lawyers Association (BLA), Cape Law Society, KwaZulu-Natal Law Society, Law Society of the Free State, Law Society of the Northern Provinces, and the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL).
A significant milestone for the LSSA occurred on 1 November 2018, with the implementation of the LPA. This act abolished the statutory provincial law societies and established the LPC in their place. Alongside this change, the LSSA’s amended constitution came into effect, incorporating the BLA, NADEL, and nine provincial attorneys’ associations as its constituent members.
The LSSA serves as the representative body for the attorneys’ profession in South Africa, encompassing both attorneys and candidate attorneys. It liaises with the LPC, which holds the responsibility of registering attorneys and advocates, as well as overseeing articles of clerkship for candidate legal practitioners. Additionally, the LPC functions as the regulatory and disciplinary body for the legal profession, providing a platform for members of the public to lodge complaints regarding the services received from attorneys or advocates.
Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) – Lawyers In South Africa
The formation of the LSSA was the result of extensive discussions and negotiations among the statutory law societies, non-statutory lawyers’ organizations (BLA and NADEL), and the ALS. A statement of principles was signed in July 1996, outlining the vision for national restructuring and unity within the legal profession. This statement laid the foundation for the transition towards a national statutory structure with nine provincial substructures.
To realize this vision, an interim structure was established, represented by a council consisting of statutory law society and non-statutory organization representatives. This interim structure, the LSSA, assumed the role and assets of the ALS, aiming to foster unity within the profession and overcome historical divisions. The ultimate goal was to advocate for new legislation that would establish a national, unified governance structure for the legal profession in South Africa.
The process of establishing the LSSA constitution began in September 1996, with a dedicated team tasked with drafting the document. A provisional committee, reflecting the future LSSA council, was formed to guide the various constitution drafts through the six constituent members. In February 1998, the committee convened for the final time to reaffirm their commitment to the restructuring process and finalize arrangements for signing the LSSA constitution.
The signing of the first LSSA constitution took place at a special ceremony in Parliament in March 1998. Attended by councilors from the six constituent members, the late Minister of Justice Dullah Omar, parliamentarians, members of the judiciary, representatives from the General Council of the Bar, and the International Bar Association, this event marked a significant milestone for the legal profession in South Africa. Subsequently, the constitution has undergone amendments, with the latest being signed by the Presidents of the BLA, NADEL, and provincial law societies on 29 October 2018.
The Law Society of South Africa continues to play a crucial role in fostering unity, promoting the highest professional standards, and advocating for the interests of the legal profession in South Africa. Through its representation and guidance, the LSSA ensures the maintenance of integrity, competence, and ethical conduct within the legal community, thereby upholding justice and the rule of law in the nation.
For further information and updates on the Law Society of South Africa, visit their official website and stay connected with their initiatives and developments.
Law Society of South Africa
304 Brooks Street, Menlo Park, Pretoria
P O Box 36626, Menlo Park 0102
Docex 82, Pretoria
Tel: +27 (0)12 366 8800
Fax: +27 (0)12 362 0969
LSSA Legal Education and Development
161 Lynnwood Road, Brooklyn, Pretoria, 0011
P O Box 27167, Sunnyside 0132
Docex 227, Pretoria
Tel: +27 (0)12 441 4600
Fax: +27 (0)12 341 1339