Government wants lawyers to do mandatory community service in South Africa

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

One of the objectives of the Legal Practice Act (LPA) is to widen access to justice by putting in place measures providing for the provision of services of general interest by candidate legal practitioners and practitioners of law in practice.

The LPA obliges the Minister for Justice and Corrections to prescribe the requirements for community service after consultation with the South African Legal Practice Council.

The new regulations, which are open for public comment until June 20, 2022, propose the following:

Legal candidates

  • A candidate lawyer must, as part of his professional training, perform eight hours per year of work of general interest.
  • A person who enters office as a candidate lawyer during a calendar year must perform community service equal to at least one hour per month, or part thereof, during the first calendar year of professional training .
  • The service of general interest rendered by a candidate lawyer must be supervised by his principal and the service of general interest rendered by a student must be supervised by his hiring lawyer.
  • The period of service covered may be intermittent or continuous.
  • All overtime community service hours completed in a calendar year can be carried over as credits to the following calendar year.
  • The candidate lawyer must, at the end of the period of practical professional training, present to the council one or more certificates signed by his main lawyer or engaging, as the case may be, attesting that this community service has been rendered.
  • Certain exemptions may apply.

Practicing legal practitioners

  • A practicing attorney must render 40 hours per year of community service.
  • A lawyer can be exempted from performing community service in accordance with the rules.
  • A lawyer who begins to practice in a calendar year must perform community service of at least three hours per month, or part thereof, during the first calendar year of practice.
  • A lawyer does not need to be supervised when performing community service.
  • Any pro bono service rendered by a practicing lawyer will be recognized as community service.
  • The period of service covered may be intermittent or continuous.
  • All overtime community service hours completed in a calendar year can be carried over as credits to the following calendar year.


Read: Standard Bank fires staff for creating phantom accounts

Jill E. Washington