Financial Aid for Black Lawyers: Transforming the Legal Industry

Lawyers play an important role in South Africa’s mission to dismantle racism and strive for economic transformation, and this has always been a cornerstone of LAW FOR ALL’s philosophy.  In uncertain political times, we’re seeing just how valuable the judiciary is when it comes to keeping the country on track.  Therefore, legal practitioners should lead the way and invite citizens to join the quest to change the socio-political climate of the future.

With the Legal Practice Amendment Act 16 of 2017, which was gazetted on Thursday 18 January, important steps were outlined towards realising a transformed legal practice fraternity. Despite this, the fraternity remains untransformed. As Blade Nzimande said in an address at the Young Lawyers Conference, regarding the issue of articles of clerkship: “Some of the Black lawyers who experience the problem contend that it took them on average four months to register articles compared to two weeks for their White counterparts in what essentially remain white legal firms. This inequality has a massive impact in the training and development of young lawyers seeking to join the profession.”

White-owned firms still far outnumber Black-owned firms.

LAW FOR ALL has understood its potential to aid progress for the last 25 years. This innovative company has been tirelessly fighting for an accessible legal system that provides legal service to all citizens by lawyers who are equally trained, equipped and treated. LAW FOR ALL has been actively involved in the transformation process and offers assistance to black legal professionals who struggle to keep their firms afloat by making financial aid available.

“Although the legal fraternity has made strides in terms of transformation, we have to accelerate the future growth and advancement. It is vital to support upcoming Black-owned firms in order to shape our landscape further and make inequality a thing of the past. It is for this reason that we actively participate in balancing the field for lawyers,” asserts LAW FOR ALL’s Managing Director, Adv. Jackie Nagtegaal.

In 2016, LAW FOR ALL supported Black- owned firms with financial assistance under its Fund a Firm project. Some of these firms included Malesa Moloto Attorneys, who were aided to take on their RAF cases. “The funds were used to improve our firm’s cash flow to meet the disbursements in our RAF cases for medical experts’ reports. The growth on our firm for having used the funds shall be seen and experienced in the near future. We thank LAW FOR ALL for their support,” said Mr. Moloto.

Another Black- owned firm, Abel Moeketsane Attorneys, noted that the funds were used to enhance the salaries of their staff as well as their operations in terms of equipment and office furniture. According to Mr Moeketsane, “It really meant a lot to us and it is a gesture from LAW FOR ALL to show that they want to see our firm succeed, develop and evolve. We would not have done it without LAW FOR ALL.”

As a legal service and cost cover provider, LAW FOR ALL insures the rights of hundreds and thousands of South Africans. They provide clients with legal advice and mediation services, and when it gets to litigation, instruct and pay attorneys to defend their clients. “We use lawyers who reflect our country’s demographics. Our customer base is made up of people who could not necessarily afford a lawyer, so by having legal cost cover, they are protected while our partner lawyers have work and guaranteed regular payments as the case progresses,” added Nagtegaal. In the 2017 financial year alone, LAW FOR ALL paid almost R13 million over to partner firms to represent its clients.

LAW FOR ALL urges law firms to send requests for financial aid, office supplies, accounting services, marketing assistance and business mentoring to firms@lawforall.co.za by 21 February 2018. Seed funding for aspirational practitioners wanting to set up their firms is also provided for by LAW FOR ALL on application.

The Numbers:

91% of the lawyers employed by LAW FOR ALL are black, and 63% female.

225 LAW FOR ALL partner firms are Black- owned.

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