The Law Clinic strives to achieve two primary goals namely:
(a) clinical education of final-year LLB students with the emphasis on the development of an ability to think analytically, and instilling an awareness of the practical consequences of applying theoretical knowledge; and
(b) delivery of free legal services to indigent members of the public in line with the guidelines of the Law Society of South Africa.
THE THREE CLINICS
Auckland Park Kingsway Campus Law Clinic
This clinic is situated on the UJ main campus and although the emphasis is on general Magistrates’ Court litigation and family law, other types of cases will be considered if our court schedules allow it. It is the mainstay of our operations. Two attorneys are based here namely the Principal Attorney, Mrs. Natasha Naidoo and an attorney, Miss Gökşen Effendi. The Law Clinic senior secretary, Mrs. Magda Otto, also has her office there. The clinic is well-known in the surrounding suburban areas and attracts a steady flow of clients. Some clients however also come from other areas further away.
Doornfontein Campus Law Clinic
This clinic is situated on the Doornfontein Campus at the corner of Siemert and Beit Streets, Doornfontein, Johannesburg. The areas close to this clinic are densely populated or industrialised areas, and include inter alia Doornfontein, New Doornfontein, Troyeville, Fairview, Jeppestown, Central Johannesburg and Hillbrow. Here too the emphasis is on general Magistrates’ Court litigation and family law. The Principal Attorney here is Mrs. Elize Radley assisted by Ms. Nazreen Ismail her candidate attorney and the secretary is Mrs. Mamokgele Maleka.
Soweto Campus Law Clinic
This clinic opened in February 2011 after many years of planning. It is situated on the Soweto Campus in Chris Hani Road, Power Park, Soweto in a building specially upgraded for this purpose. This clinic serves the community of the greater Soweto. We had to sacrifice the Johannesburg Courts Clinic in order to have enough staff for the Soweto Clinic, but regards the serving of a new community as a challenge. In opening this clinic a strategic objective has also been achieved in that all three clinics are now run as separate Law Practices. The experience gained by students at any of the clinics are exactly the same and the methods of practice are also the same.
There is a great need for legal services among the less affluent and poor people of Soweto, and unfortunately the amount of potential clients by far overshadows the amount of cases that we can actually take on. The attorneys here are Mrs. Alet Beyl, (the Principal Attorney) and Mr. Elton Hart. The secretary is Mrs. Gugu Fakude.
WHY A LAW CLINIC?
Each Law Clinic is similar to a private attorney’s practice. Service by students at the clinic constitutes real legal work, and presents the law student with the opportunity to participate in experiential service learning through dealing directly with live clients and real cases. This is the first primary goal to be achieved by the clinic. The consequences of the legal decisions taken by the client based on the advice given by the student are real and we pride ourselves on the fact that our students take their work at the clinic very seriously and also start to take an interest in the background and circumstances of their clients.
This type of live training also assists the legal professions in the sense that the student who achieves his or her LLB degree, already has some practice-based experience. Without the Law Clinic this would usually only become part of his or her learning environment once he has been registered as a candidate attorney as required by the Attorneys Act, act 53 of 1979.
The same applies to our future advocates who also have to serve a period of pupilage under the supervision of an advocate at the Bar after they have obtained their LLB degree. Continuous assessment that is formative and summative is used in the clinic purposefully to ultimately help the student develop into the best lawyer that he or she can be.
The second primary goal is based on section 34 in the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, that guarantees everyone access to courts. Access to justice is a national problem for the poor and the indigent and apart from Legal Aid South Africa and various non-governmental organisations, the Law Clinics at Universities are the last recourse to those who cannot afford to obtain legal representation.
The attorneys in the law clinic are generally known as “clinicians”. This is where you will find lawyers with empathy for the poor and the drive to serve the community, while at the same time never sacrificing the exemplary high standards of teaching that the UJ Law Clinic and Faculty of Law had become renowned for.
The Law Clinic is run as an independent professional attorney’s practice and is recognised as such by its professional body. The Clinic applies for and receives accreditation and certification annually in terms of Section 1 and 3(1)(f) of the Attorneys Act and Rule 115a of the Rules of the Law Society of the Northern Provinces and subscribes to and adheres to the same rules applicable to any private attorney.
While our wish is for all of our graduates to be financially very successful and independent, we gratefully acknowledge the work done by some former students in order to further the aims of the clinic after they have started their law careers. This is the true clinical spirit that will uphold the constitutional ideal of access to justice for all!