Examples of our work include
The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship hosted an insightful speed mentoring session for 20 Liberian entrepreneurs at its Braamfontein campus on 14 March 2016. The aim was for the entrepreneurs (or mentees) to engage with mentors who had a range of business experience. Each mentee presented his or her business case and its challenges.
Thereafter the business challenges and possible ways to resolve them were discussed in a timed mentoring session during which the mentees rotated every five minutes from one mentor to the next. Our lawyers’ expertise in international trade, company, competition and intellectual property law and knowledge of the structures and regulations governing the banking and financial sectors was useful in contextualising the mentees’ issues. They also advised on general business expansion strategies such as the possibilities of franchising.
The Cape Law Society and Cape Town Attorneys Association, in consultation with the Registrar of Deeds, established a pro bono office at the Cape Town Deeds Office a few years ago. The aim is to deliver advisory services and assistance on property-related legal issues to those in need. The pro bono office runs daily and is staffed by our qualified conveyancers who volunteer at the clinic.
Our Cape Town Office was invited by the Department of Justice to participate in an access to justice week for women’s month in 2015. We manned the University of the Western Cape law clinic for two days while the students were on holiday.
The Women's Legal Centre (WLC) - a non-profit, independently-funded law centre - was started in 1999 to enable women to use the law to advance their rights to equality. We support the organisation in both Cape Town and Johannesburg as follows:
- Family law helpdesk: We partnered with the WLC to set up and serve the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court Family Law Helpdesk. The WLC entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to make family legal services more accessible with this helpdesk at the Cape Town Family Court. After a successful six-month pilot, we fully adopted the project with lawyers from our Cape Town office servicing the helpdesk two mornings a week.
- Sex worker clinic: We donated furniture and computers to the WLC when it opened its Johannesburg office. And our lawyers assist at the centre with consultations to sex workers – who remain unrecognised as a workforce – with matters of police and domestic violence, harassment and consumer issues.
The South African Society for Labour Law (SASLAW) runs pro bono projects at the labour courts in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth. Through this project, we help unrepresented litigants with free legal advice and representation in court. Taking our assistance further, we hosted the launch of the SASLAW Western Cape non-profit company (NPC) at our Cape Town offices in November 2014. The launch saw lawyers volunteering for pro bono duty at the labour court – filling about 80% of the annual roster that day.
Pension Law Clinic: Through referrals from SASLAW, members of our specialised Pension Law team assist pro bono clients with various pension fund claims and disputes.
We support ProBono.org by providing services at various clinics (see examples below) and by taking on deserving matters referred to us. We have also taken part in their One Child a Year campaign — appealing to all lawyers to provide legal representation to children who may find themselves in domestic difficulties.
- Housing clinic: We offer pro bono services to individuals on their housing problems by servicing the Housing Clinic coordinated and hosted by ProBono.org.
- Refugee clinic: We offer pro bono services to refugees by servicing the Refugee Clinic coordinated and hosted by ProBono.org, and also assist in capacitating legal aid and pro bono practitioners to give their clients the best representation possible. In 2019, for example, we hosted two capacity-building workshops hosted by ProBono.org and Lawyers for Human Rights on refugee, immigration and administrative law.
- Randburg Magistrate’s Court Domestic Violence Helpdesk: We assist victims of domestic violence by volunteering our services at the Randburg Magistrate’s Court Helpdesk every Tuesday morning.
- Sensitisation training on sex work: We collaborate with ProBono.org and the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) in presenting sensitisation training workshops and seminars for attorneys, advocates and civil society organisations that assist sex workers. In 2019, we and our partners presented training workshops in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.