The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) takes serious issue with statements made by the Higher Education Transformation Network (HETN) that the LSSA has pressurised the Council for Higher Education (CHE) to withdraw the accreditation of the law faculty at Walter Sisulu University to present the LLB degree. ‘Nothing could be further from the truth,’ say LSSA Co-Chairpersons Walid Brown and David Bekker.
‘In fact, the LSSA approached the CHE earlier this year with a request to participate in the process and understand the accreditation system since the attorneys’ profession receives 60% of the LLB graduates into its ranks. We, therefore, have a very legitimate interest in developments relating to the LLB degree,’ they add.
The LSSA is also extremely concerned that a university law faculty can be disaccredited without conscious attempts being made to support the law faculty and assist it to achieve satisfactory standards. ‘This disempowers many potential graduates from embarking on the profession of their choice at a law faculty that is accessible to them. Invariably these will be the poorest and most disadvantaged students who are generally not in a position to attend another university. We need to strengthen opportunities for education, not reduce them,’ say Mr Brown and Mr Bekker. They added that the LSSA will renew its attempts to engage with the CHE in this regard.
Through the Attorneys Fidelity Fund (AFF), the attorneys’ profession provides bursaries mainly to previously disadvantaged LLB students and also provides grants to university law clinics, which are generally linked to the law faculties. Between 2014 and this year the AFF has paid R21.2 million in bursaries and R4.4 million in grants to university law clinics. For 2018 it has earmarked R1 373 880 for university law clinics and R6 479 920 for LLB bursaries.
ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE CO-CHAIRPERSONS OF THE LAW SOCIETY OF SOUTH AFRICA, WALID BROWN AND DAVID BEKKER
by the Law Society of South Africa Communication Department