Broadening access to justice through community service

//Broadening access to justice through community service

We believe that the law should be accessible, empowering and helpful to all. Most of our clients are corporates and most of our time is spent making the law accessible, empowering and helpful to corporates, but it is also important that the law is accessible, empowering and helpful to the indigent, marginalised, poor and vulnerable. Our reason for caring is not just because the law (like the Legal Practice Act requires it) but because we want to make a difference in people’s lives by helping them. For this reason, all our attorneys (from candidates to seniors) spend at least 50 hours a year applying their particular skills and experience to broaden access to justice to those who need it most.

Sharing information over the Internet

We believe that one of the best ways to broaden access to justice is through the Internet and using it as a tool to share valuable information. Almost everyone now has a smartphone and some data. Therefore, almost everyone has access to the Internet, search engines, and to websites or social media. We, therefore, strive to share as much valuable and easy-to-understand information on our website. The value of this information, we believe, comes from the fact that it educates people about their rights, including:

  • the right to privacy,
  • the right to quality goods and services, and
  • the right to have access to information that could help protect their rights.

Knowing about your rights can be the difference between having access to justice or none at all.

Innovation is key

To ensure that a large number of people, and not just one or two, have better access to justice, we have to come up with clever or innovative ways to reach as many people as possible. Dedicating 50 hours of time to helping two or three people is rewarding, yes, but is it not better to spend that 50 hours finding solutions that can help much more people, instead of only a few? This is a question we asked ourselves even before the Legal Practice Act became an imminent reality for South African law firms. We believe that creating solutions with technology is one of the best ways to provide access to justice for thousands, instead of just a few.

Examples of how we broaden access to justice

  • We’ve provided thousands of Free Lease Agreement templates to help improve the often volatile tenant-landlord relationship.
  • We’ve also provided Free Website Terms and Conditions to help website owners who cannot yet afford to pay for terms.
  • We’ve given advice about Wills and their importance in our lives, especially our digital lives.
  • Our free advice has helped consumers understand their right to return goods under the Consumer Protection Act.
  • We’ve empowered data subjects with knowledge of how POPIA protects their personal information.
  • We’ve informed identity theft victims about some of the steps they can take to recover their stolen identities.
  • We’ve shown how the Pro-Poor book and a better Land Information System (like using blockchain) can help to make the law more accessible to the poor.
  • We’ve participated in the development of laws (like the Cybercrimes Bill and the POPIA Regulations) that protect the poor and vulnerable.
  • We’ve developed our firm’s own Anti Bribery and Corruption Policy (ABC Policy), provided our clients with a free ABC Guide and advised them to always be ABC compliant in order to improve their organisations, the country’s economy and, ultimately, protect the poor.

We want to make a difference and will always continue to strive to broaden access to justice. We understand that the only way to do this is to practice law in a manner that’s friendly and beneficial to the majority of South Africans, especially the poor.

By | 2017-12-07T07:01:09+00:00 October 9th, 2017|Categories: Life@Law|