Government wants lawyers to do mandatory community service in South Africa

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

One of the purposes of the Legal Practice Act (LPA) is to broaden access to justice by putting in place measures to provide for the rendering of community service by candidate legal practitioners and practising legal practitioners.

The LPA compels the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services 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 20 June 2022, propose the following:

Candidate legal practitioners

  • A candidate legal practitioner must, as a component of their vocational training, render eight hours per annum of community service.
  • A person who commences service as a candidate legal practitioner during the course of a calendar year must perform community service equal to not less than one hour per month, or part thereof, in the first calendar year of vocational training.
  • The community service rendered by a candidate attorney must be supervised by their principal and the community service rendered by a pupil must be supervised by their engaging advocate.
  • The period of service referred may be intermittent or continuous.
  • Any extra hours of community service rendered in a calendar year may be carried forward as credits for the next calendar year.
  • A candidate legal practitioner must, after completion of the period of practical vocational training, submit to the council one or more certificates signed by their principal or engaging advocate, as the case may be, confirming that such community service has been rendered.
  • Certain exemptions may apply.

Practising legal practitioners

  • A practising legal practitioner must render 40 hours per annum of community service.
  • A legal practitioner may be exempted from the rendering of community service as set out in the rules.
  • A legal practitioner who starts practising during the course of a calendar year must perform community service equal to not less than three hours per month, or part thereof, in the first calendar year of practice.
  • A legal practitioner need not be supervised during the rendering of community service.
  • Any pro bono services rendered by a practising legal practitioner will be recognised as community service.
  • The period of service referred may be intermittent or continuous.
  • Any extra hours of community service rendered in a calendar year may be carried forward as credits for the next calendar year.


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Government wants lawyers to do mandatory community service in South Africa