UJ legal expert elected SAULCA executive member

Date: Aug 27, 2013 | News


The Executive of South African University Law Clinics Association (SAULCA), previously known as Association of University Legal Aid Institutions (AULAI), has elected Mr Eddie Hanekom, Director of the Law Clinics at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), as an executive member.

Under his leadership, the UJ Law Clinic has cemented itself as one of the country’s leaders in the field of legal aid practice and clinical legal education. The University boasts with three operational law clinics, based on each of its three campuses, with the aim to provide free legal assistance to people who are unable to obtain legal assistance through other means.

 

A​s the Principal Attorney, Hanekom, prioritises the community’s needs for legal services and its clients’ interest. “These clinics allow final year law (LLB) students the opportunity to offer free and reliable legal advice to members of the public under the supervision of professionally qualified legal practitioners from within the greater Johannesburg area.

 

The students benefit from their involvement in clinic work by developing legal skills, experiencing law in operation, and reflecting on the ethics and justice of legal practice. Each of the separate offices is headed by a Clinic Principal, all of whom are admitted practicing attorneys,” says Hanekom.​

 

As the Principal Attorney, Hanekom, prioritises the community’s needs for legal services and its clients’ interest. “These clinics allow final year law (LLB) students the opportunity to offer free and reliable legal advice to members of the public under the supervision of professionally qualified legal practitioners from within the greater Johannesburg area. The students benefit from their involvement in clinic work by developing legal skills, experiencing law in operation, and reflecting on the ethics and justice of legal practice. Each of the separate offices is headed by a Clinic Principal, all of whom are admitted practicing attorneys,” says Hanekom.

 

Since its launch in 1981, the Law Clinic has proved to be a tremendous success. In 2012, the Law Clinic won first prize as Best Community Engagement Project at the University’s annual Community Engagement Awards. The prize had been awarded after an extensive external investigation into Community Engagement projects at the University confirms the UJ Law Clinic’s effectiveness both in assisting poor members of the community with legal advice and court cases as well as providing Clinical Legal Education to final year students. In 2009, the Law Clinic made headlines on a precedent ruling handed down by the South Gauteng High Court. Full parental rights and responsibilities, and specifically the right to care, were awarded to an unmarried biological father of a two-year-old girl. The Law Clinic represented the father, who sought custody of his daughter after the child’s mother approached an adoption agency to arrange for an adoption. The mother’s decision to have the child adopted was done with full knowledge of the fact that the father was fully prepared at home to care and accept the child. The ruling is precedent-setting as it was the first of its kind in giving effect to the rights of an unmarried father under the then new Children’s Act. The ruling of the High Court effectively rejected the view of the Children’s Court at the time that the biological father had to apply for the adoption of his own child. Most of the Law Clinic’s court cases are however directed at rendering much needed assistance to individual poor or indigent clients.

 

Hanekom also lectures the final year LLB subject of Applied Legal Studies and previously acted as academic coordinator of the National Diploma in Law: (Paralegal Studies). His main subjects of interest include inter alia personal injury law, sports law, the law of contract, (especially the doctrine of volenti non fit iniuria), as well as general civil procedure litigation.

 

​​​The three law clinics are open on weekdays to the public from 08:00 to 13:00. The law clinic on the Auckland Park Kingsway Campus can be contacted on 011 559 2633, the Soweto Campus on 011 559 5190 and the Doornfontein Campus on 011 559 6763.

 

Eddie Hanekom

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