South Africa Commercial Law Training Programme
This has really been a busy summer for the South Africa Programme. A team of 6 from IRLI travelled to Pretoria in early June to deliver a one-week Commercial Law Workshop. The Irish team included IRLI Directors Michael Irvine and Cillian Mac Domhnaill; Michael Carrigan; Anna Hickey from Phillip Lee Solicitors and IRLI Coordinator Emma Dwyer. Using material which was reviewed and compiled in Ireland with the help of solicitors Emma O’Hara, Avril Mollagan and Katie Nolan from Mason Hayes &Curran, the programme included an introduction to commercial structures, share purchase agreements, sale/purchase of a business as well as looking at specific South African Commercial legislation. The Irish team was also joined by 5 South African lawyers who lectured on specific topics throughout the week.
During the week IRLI had the opportunity to work with our partners in the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) and visit some of South Africa’s leading Commercial Law firms in Sandton, Johannesburg. Many of these firms are participating in the 2014 programme by providing placements to a number of the course participants, as well as supporting the Mentoring element of the programme. It was really encouraging to hear how much the firms value the project and are willing to be engaged in a variety of ways. It was also an important opportunity to hear suggestions about how we might improve the programme, such as including a session on interview skills and preparation, as well highlighting to the participants the importance of being able to market themselves as professionals. Many of the course participants are sole practitioners in predominantly black firms who have not the opportunity to engage in commercial work due to political and economic reasons. It is important that they have the confidence to be able to use the training provided by IRLI and the LSSA to build their firms and expand the scope of their work.
Since its early beginnings in 2002, IRLI has partnered with LSSA to deliver this programme which has been funded by Irish Aid. In June, we also had the opportunity to meet with the outgoing Irish Ambassador to South Africa, H.E. Brendan MacMahon and the Irish Embassy’s Head of Development, Mr. Bob Patterson. Ambassador MacMahon has been a huge supporter of the Project in South Africa and we were delighted to learn that we will receive funding to continue with a programme 2015.
In August, Irish barrister Jarlath Ryan, who has been involved with the programme in South Africa since 2006, traveled to deliver part of the second workshop which focused on drafting skills. The workshop was led by Ismail Hussein SC, former judge of the High Court, and solicitor Mariska Munnik. During this week, Jarlath also had the opportunity to speak to many of the course participants individually and learn more about the management and profile of their practices. It was wonderful to be visited by Vishen Singh who undertook a placement in Matheson solicitors as part of the programme last year and hear him address the class about the positive impact the experience has had on his career.
This year we are delighted to welcome South Africa lawyers Sylvia Gertze, Alan Kisson and Khumisi Kganare who are currently undertaking placements in Matheson, William Fry and Beauchamps Solicitors in Dublin.