“The legal profession is the guardian of the dignity and integrity of the Nation. Our mettle as a Nation will be judged by how we deal with the weakest and poorest amongst us.”
– Late Former Chief Justice Pius Langa
In retrospect, I did not understand the role of a legal practitioner in society until my experience in the Street Law programme, facilitated by my alma mater, the University of South Africa. It was as I participated in the law clinic extra-curricular activity that I was exposed to practical, real life incidents as opposed to the theory with which I was already acquainted. These incidents seemed to have slipped through the “hands of justice”. My peers and I had just presented lectures on topics such as maintenance, the law of succession, labour law and domestic violence when the moment to follow would impact my life forever.
We addressed women, young and old, sharing the ‘101’ on justice. Each of them, as they asked questions and commented, awakened in me my role in society. It is moments like these that test our understanding and crystalise the meaning of the abstract term that is ‘justice’. At that very moment, law was not a question in an exam, it was not the topic to an essay, the law was not a debate, but the law became a means to an end ‘justice’ and I was the pioneer.
Today, as my hearing for my admission and enrolment as a legal practitioner approaches, I am alive to my responsibility as a legal practitioner. I aim to expose the underhanded dealings which take place in corporate South Africa and I am continually reminded that I am a champion of justice. I therefore align myself with the sentiments shared by the late Former Chief Justice Pius Langa and affirm that the legal profession is indeed the guardian of the dignity and integrity of the Nation. Where legal order fails to protect individuals, the disadvantaged and the minority groups, we are entrusted to fill in the gap.
I find the legal profession to be more than a job. On a deeper level, I have discovered that each and every day, as I contribute to the legal order and law enforcement, I am an extension of God’s character: As the book of the prophet Isaiah records: “For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing”. I am also inclined to refer to a statement made by an American political philosopher, put to a group of final-year law students: “Like it or not, you will get nowhere unless you find more in the law than a lucrative job. You must find it a calling. Most importantly, the law must call upon the highest exercise of your highest selves.” – Bruce Ackerman.
As I sojourn on this path towards the mark for the prize of a high calling, hard pressed, yet not crushed, perplexed, but not in despair, I continually find comfort as I embrace the minds of people who come before me. I am a pioneer of justice and a custodian of this constitutional democracy.
Joyous Freedom Day. In memory of those who struggled for our freedoms, we implore all our members to stay home to save lives. Ubuntu.
SABWiL Alumni NEC (Deputy Secretary-General)
Candidate Attorney – Rooth & Wessels Incorporated