The co-founder of Trial Advocacy Training shares a lunch with the BLA-LEC team

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Mr James Fergusson II is an American jurist who co-founded this country’s first Trial Advocacy Training, (TAT) in 1986. Mr Fergusson II is an exemplary jurist, who has consistently been voted as a ‘Super Lawyer’ by his peers. He has also been listed as one of the top 10 litigators in the U.S.

It thus gives us great pleasure to report on his visit to South Africa this year. Fergusson shared an insightful lunch with our Legal Education Centre team, during our ‘Information Exchange Sessions’. Saying that we were under the presence of greatness would be an understatement, yet notwithstanding all his critically acclaimed achievements, Mr James E. Fergusson remains humble.

He is featured in our BLA-LEC history discussion under the ‘History’ tab on our website, his contribution towards the introduction of Trial Advocacy training in South Africa will forever be engraved in our history and the history of the legal profession.

See some of the images from our session with the legendary James E. Fergusson II.

Information Exchange Session images gallery

The “African Law Review” and it’s importance?

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It is fundamentally important to preserve the dialogue and written work by black lawyers, and legal practitioners before the new constitutional paradigm that came about post-apartheid. This is important for two main reasons: the importance of our own stories (as black lawyers) being told by us, and the ability to check and evaluate our progress against those times, which presents us with a learning opportunity from the past.

This is why the AFRICAN LAW REVIEW is held in high regard by the BLA-LEC, rightfully so at that, as it presents itself now to us amongst other things, a resourceful tool. The Review was launched in 1987, its’ objective: to facilitate a platform for members of the legal profession to engage in robust debate, about issues affecting the profession, and to provide much needed knowledge of the law beyond the legal profession.

Essentially, the AFRICAN LAW REVIEW was a platform for black attorneys to write-up on the applicable laws at the time, new legislation, proposed bills, over and above, a platform for moot. In an honorary article dated April 2010 to the founder, the first president of the Black Lawyers Association (BLA) and the first director of the BLA-LEC, the BLA re-published a noteworthy profile article on Dr. Godfrey Mokgonyane Pitje. This article was initially published in the 1988-bumper issue of the AFRICAN LAW REVIEW, and it highlighted the number of problems encountered by black lawyers at the time: problems of recognition, ‘our own black people did not accept that African lawyers could be as good as white lawyers.’ These problems of recognition were the raison d’etre for the establishment of the AFRICAN LAW REVIEW.

Thus in honour of this great piece of history, we’ve retrieved a case note written on the subject matter of demolished houses titled: ‘The Wrangle on Demolished Homes’. The article choice was not a random one, at the heart of the many socio-economic issues facing South Africa currently, the lack of adequate housing is at the top of the list. This case note was written well over 2 decades ago, yet still relevant to the plight of South African lives today. The note touches on the demolition of peoples’ homes in 1987. Demolitions are closely linked to evictions, which are an issue that always hits South Africa hard. The current position in our law, on evictions is governed by section 26 (3) of the Constitution, read with the PIE ACT (Prevention of Illegal Eviction from, and Unlawful Occupation of, Land Act 19 of 1998). These statutory provisions aim to remedy the problems faced by many landless unlawful occupants around South Africa, who meet the requisite requirements of the Act, by preventing unlawful evictions commissioned by property owners.

The AFRICAN LAW REVIEW was last published in 1995, however its’ legacy endures and offers several talking points, and guidelines for prospective and current legal practitioners. It even goes beyond the reach of the legal profession, it is an essential part of the history of South Africa as it has documented pivotal events. The founding members of the AFRICAN LAW REVIEW founded the review on the values and objectives that the BLA-LEC operates on. It is a tool that should not be forgotten, nor left behind in history, but one that should be preserved and used to inspire both young and old.

The AFRICAN LAW REVIEW is thus a fine collective account of the rich history of the BLA, the BLA-LEC, South Africa and Africa as a whole. We fully encourage that you take time to peruse it and reflect back on the past, to set the tone forward.

What we have achieved as the BLA-LEC (Annual Report Summation)

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We have largely managed to demystify the law and advance its accessibility throughout our years in service, this in turn bodes well for the administration of justice.

Our legal education centre’s activities continue to reach out to lawyers who would not otherwise be able to reach out to that particular branch of law. Do peruse our website more, for further insight(s).

Our Purpose

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The purpose of Legal Education Training is to develop and improve legal skills. Most of which are practical based, or were inaccessible to previously disadvantaged legal practitioners.

We have grouped our trainings into 3 main pillars, namely:

  • Trial Advocacy Training
  • Commercial Law Programme
  • Continuing Legal Education.

We have been conducting the Trial Advocacy programme since 1986, you can read up on this type of training and more under our ‘Training’ tab on the site.

We put emphasis on practical legal skills, as we all know that legal practice is far different from what we find in textbooks, legal education training offers a more thorough and interactive approach.

Our Ethos

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We, the Black Lawyers Association – Legal Education Centre (BLA-LEC) are:

  1. Dedicated to the improvement of the legal profession.
  2. Committed to the effective management and development of human potential in accordance with its values and to the promotion of an egalitarian and equitable social order.

We achieve our ideals through, amongst other things our legal education training programs, community outreach programs.

Refresher training for Legal Aid lawyers | Namibian Sun

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Publication: Namibia Sun

Published: 27 May 2014


A total of 19 lawyers employed by the Ministry of Justice’s Directorate of Legal Aid were presented with trial advocacy certificates in Swakopmund this past Saturday.
They attended a five-day trial advocacy training course in Swakopmund last week before the ceremony, where acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice Gabriel Nepaya, officiated.

Click here for the full article.


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The signing of the Legal Practice Bill into law by President Jacob Zuma was welcomed by the Law Society of SA (LSSA) on Tuesday:


To provide a legislative framework for the transformation and restructuring of the legal profession in line with constitutional imperatives so as to facilitate and enhance an independent legal profession that broadly reflects the diversity and demographics of the Republic; to provide for the establishment, powers and functions of a single South African Legal Practice Council and Provincial Councils in order to regulate the affairs of legal practitioners and to set norms and standards; to provide for the admission and enrolment of legal practitioners; to regulate the professional conduct of legal practitioners so as to ensure accountable conduct; to provide for the establishment of an Office of a Legal Services Ombud and for the appointment, powers and functions of a Legal Services Ombud; to provide for a Legal Practitioners’ Fidelity Fund and a Board of Control for the Fidelity Fund; to provide for the establishment, powers and functions of a National Forum on the Legal Profession; and to provide for matters connected therewith.

See attachment below for official document

Legal Practice Act