The government wants lawyers to perform compulsory community service in South Africa

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has asked for public comment on the mandatory community service for legal professionals in the country.

One of the purposes of the Legal Practice Act (LPA) is to expand access to justice by putting in place measures to provide community services by candidate lawyers and legal professionals.

The LPA requires the Minister of Justice and Prison Services to prescribe requirements for community service after consulting the South African Legal Practice Council.

The new legislation, open to the public for comment until 20 June 2022, proposes the following:

Candidate lawyers

  • A candidate lawyer must, as part of his or her professional training, perform eight hours a year of community service.
  • A person who enters service as an aspiring attorney during a calendar year must render community service of no less than one hour per month, or part thereof, in the first calendar year of vocational training.
  • Community service rendered by a candidate attorney must be overseen by his principal and community service rendered by a trainee must be overseen by his engaging attorney.
  • The reported service period can be intermittent or continuous.
  • Any extra hours of community service rendered in a calendar year may be carried forward as credits for the following calendar year.
  • A candidate legal professional must, upon completion of the practical vocational training period, submit to the council one or more certificates signed by his principal or appointed attorney, as the case may be, confirming that such community service has been rendered.
  • Some exemptions may apply.

Legal practitioners

  • A practicing legal professional must perform 40 hours a year of community service.
  • A legal practitioner can be exempted from providing community service as required by the rules.
  • A lawyer who begins practicing during a calendar year must perform community service for no less than three hours per month, or part thereof, in the first calendar year of practice.
  • A legal professional does not need to be supervised while providing community service.
  • Any pro bono service rendered by a practicing legal professional will be recognized as a community service.
  • The reported service period can be intermittent or continuous.
  • Any extra hours of community service rendered in a calendar year may be carried forward as credits for the following calendar year.


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