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Unravelling the Legal Practice Act

Unravelling the Legal Practice Act

We, at Linklawyer, know how difficult it is for small and solo practitioners (SSPs) to keep abreast of professional developments and governance while juggling court appearances, urgent applications, and demanding clients. Large firms have dedicated resources to not only monitor but also voice their interests, which often differ markedly from those of SSPs.

We’ve initiated the Linklawyer blog so that we can keep SSPs in the loop by providing concise and informative articles about new developments and the things that matter, and to collate, voice and lobby for such interests.

First on our agenda is to present a series of articles on the Legal Practice Act. Our aim is to keep our followers updated on new legal developments and to identify and address the more salient features of the LPA.

The Legal Practice Act came into partial effect in February 2019. This spells significant changes for legal practitioners who will all have to adapt very quickly to adjust to the new regulations or face punitive action.

The LPA is the first piece of legislation to regulate all legal practitioners, candidate legal practitioners, and juristic entities in South African history. This new development has left many of us scratching our heads as we try to navigate the new regulations and the many notable vagaries contained therein.

Our LPA series focuses on how the Legal Practice Act has changed the position from the previous Attorneys Act and will touch on the important developments that have taken effect. For example, we look at how the four Law Societies have been dissolved and replaced with nine Provincial Councils which form a new structure known as the Legal Practice Council. We focus on how this affects the profession as a whole and, more specifically, small and solo practitioners.

One of the main changes that the Legal Practice Act has brought about is the change from the Attorneys Fidelity Fund to the Legal Practitioners Fidelity Fund (LPFF). As a result of this change, every practitioner must now operate a trust account, subject to certain exceptions. This has a further impact on trust interest and where such interest vests.

Coming up, we take a look at inter alia the trust interest issues, fee-sharing, estimates and mandates, as well as the right of appearance of legal and candidate practitioners and the new community service requirements.

We hope that you will enjoy our series on the Legal Practice Act and we welcome any questions about, and comments on, our articles.

If you enjoy reading our series, please feel free to like and share it on your social media platforms.

Happy reading!

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