Pro bono office launched in Pretoria

Access to justice for Tshwane’s poorest will be improved by streamlining the administration of pro bono legal aid — and allowing attorneys to choose how they wish to spend their time giving back.

The strategy will be spearheaded by a new Pretoria-based office established jointly by the Law Society of the Northern Provinces (LSNP) and ProBono.Org.

Staff will take in legal grievances and determine if there are merits in a client’s matter.

Only those who pass a means test will qualify for pro bono assistance; they must earn under R7 000 per month and have assets valued at less than R360 000.

Matters will then be referred to lawyers within Pretoria‚ Limpopo‚ Mpumalanga and parts of the North West Province‚ with expertise in the related area of law.

The rules of the LSNP require attorneys to do 24hours of pro bono work per annum.

Through the establishment of the new pro bono office attorneys’ hours can be used to run legal clinics‚ workshops‚ public consultations or taking on matters through the referral system.

LSNP’s pro bono coordinator Humphrey Shivamba said the venture was a “combination of minds‚ skills and resources” that would also help to roll out pro bono assistance in Mpumalanga‚ Limpopo and the North West where many would qualify for it. — The Times

“We want to use attorneys in Pretoria to act as mentors for the paralegals working in those offices and receive intakes from rural areas as well‚” said Probono.Org’s Pretoria manager Jolindie Ferreira.

Ferreira said the model of acting as a clearing house by ensuring there is merit in matters and fostering personal relationships with attorneys had proven to be successful in ProBono.Org’s Johannesburg and Durban offices.

“What we are trying to do is to make it easier for the attorneys to do their 24hours whilst ensuring that those members of the general public who qualify for pro bono assistance receive expert legal advice‚” said Ferreira.

“The more we open the channels to allow attorneys to get involved‚ with options‚ the easier it is to entice them to do pro bono work‚” said Shivamba.

 The office‚ based at the Kutlwanong Democracy Centre in Pretoria‚ opens officially on May 6 but has already begun to assist clients.

 

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