Irish Firms participate in Commercial Law Training Programme for South African lawyers
In an article which featured in the July 2013 edition of the Gazette, Anna Hickey wrote about her participation in Irish Rule of Law International’s (IRLI) Commercial Law Training Programme in Pretoria, South Africa. This Programme began in 2002, and the longstanding association with South Africa, and more specifically with the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA), was hugely formative for IRLI. Since 2002, with the generous support of Irish Aid, IRLI has partnered with the LSSA to provide the Commercial Law Training Programme, reaching over 400 lawyers. The need for capacity building for lawyers from historically disadvantaged communities in South Africa is particularly acute as there is often little opportunity for such lawyers to become commercial legal practitioners; the reasons being both economic and societal.
A key element of the Programme is the placements which are offered to enable participants to gain experience in the practice of commercial law. While most of the placements are completed with large South African law firms, a number of participants each year are also offered the opportunity to undertake a placement in Ireland.
In 2013, during September and October, three participants undertook placements in the commercial and corporate departments of Whitney Moore, McDowell Purcell and Matheson Solicitors. Ms. Ezmerelda Johnson-Amon, Mr. Mandu Nkomo and Mr. Vishen Singh had the opportunity to work closely with Irish colleagues in these firms and gain valuable experience as well as sharing their knowledge, such as the impact of the newly overhauled Companies Act in South Africa which contains many similarities to Ireland’s Companies Consolidation and Reform Bill. Special thanks must be given to Feilim O’Caoimh, Partner in McDowell Purcell, Mark Ryan Partner in Whitney Moore and Ann Hinds of Matheson for facilitating the Irish Placements in 2013.
Upon their return to South Africa the participants are required to deliver an Introductory Business Law Seminar to businesses in their area with a focus on small and medium sized businesses as well as those looking to set up a formal business. These seminars give participants the opportunity to see first hand the value of commercial law advice to the community and potentially attract new clients.
We hope that this Training Programme will continue to grow and we are grateful for all the support that we have received, particularly from Irish firms over the years, as well from IrishAid, our volunteers and other supporters. A team of Irish lawyers will once again travel to South Africa this year in June to facilitate a one-week Commercial Law Training Course in Pretoria and interviews will be held for the placement opportunities in Ireland.
IRLI is currently seeking support from firms in Ireland that would be interested in offering a placement as part of the 2014 Programme. For those firms which are interested in participating or if you wish to have more information, please contact IRLI’s Coordinator, Emma Dwyer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01 817 5331.