saulca

Justice Through Legal Education

THE SERVICES RENDERED BY LAW CLINICS

1.     The nature of legal services rendered by Law clinics

All Law Clinics can be seen as ordinary and professional attorneys’ firms, involving professional and qualified legal practitioners who draft legal documents and litigate matters in various courts.  Depending on the particular Law Clinic, the legal services rendered may however differ.  

There are a number of general services rendered by all Law Clinics, including the following:

1.     Basic Civil Claims, including money claims, defamation matters, motor vehicle accidents;  civil assault claims, claims against State Organizations, etc;
2.    Eviction matters;
3.    The drafting of Wills and Testaments (not Administration of Estates);
4.    Divorces and Family Law, including Custody and Children’s Court-matters;
5.    Family Violence-matters;  and
6.    Maintenance-matters


Some clinics have expanded their services to also include the following:


1.     Criminal law-matters;  
2.     Labour law-matters;  
3.     Debt Counselling- matters;  and
4.     Refugee law-matters

Certain types of cases may not be conducted by Law Clinics, for example:


(a)     Conveyancing-matters, including transfer of immovable property and registration and cancellation of mortgage bonds over such property;
(b)     Administration-matters;
(c)     Administration of Deceased Estates;
(d)     Third Party Motor Vehicle Accident Claims (involving the Road Accident Fund)


2.     Who may apply to Law Clinics for legal assistance?

Law Clinics render legal services only to the indigent members of society, who, ordinarily, cannot financially afford to appoint private legal practitioners.  In order to determine whether or not a particular person qualifies for legal aid, Law Clinics employ a means test with various requirements.  In this regard, it is recommended that potential clients contact their nearest Law Clinic in order to ascertain whether or not they fall within the ambit of the means test.

3.     Educating law students - Clinical Legal Education

A very important aspect of the services of Law Clinics is that they assist with Clinical Legal Education, which entails the practical legal training of final year law students at universities.  Students receive practical legal training by assisting the qualified practitioners and candidate attorneys at Law Clinics by drafting letters, legal documents and by writing legal opinions and consulting with clients.  In this way, the students provide additional access to justice to the public by assisting indigent members of  society over and above those who are assisted by the professional attorneys and candidate attorneys.  

4.     The training of Candidate Attorneys

Students, who have finished their legal studies, may also apply to Law Clinics to have their Articles of Clerkship and Community Services done there.  During 2007, SAULCA entered into an agreement with the Department of Justice in terms of which a number of Law Clinics in South Africa employed Candidate Attorneys, who are remunerated by the Department.  This is a wonderful initiative by the Department, as new job opportunities are created for students who want to do their clerkship, as well as expanding access to justice, as more members of the society can now be assisted by the additional personnel.  In addition to this, many Law Clinics also employ Candidate Attorneys on a private basis, that is, not under the Department of Justice.

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Chrisna Landsberg

North West University, Potchefstroom Campus

Tel:  (018) 297-5341

Email: chrisna.landsberg@nwu.ac.za

Sbp0153597veer

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