White men still earn the most
A recent report by the Law Society of SA (LSSA) has revealed how the lion’s share of money is still earned by white male advocates – even though they do not get the most work.
The report revealed that state departments mostly give their work to black and white male advocates, while coloured female advocates get the least work in almost all categories.
While state-owned enterprises (SOEs) give work to black male junior advocates and certain white male senior advocates, white male senior advocates are paid the most.
All female advocates, with the exception of black female advocates, receive less work or no work from both government departments and SOEs.
The LSSA commissioned the study to investigate the distribution of legal work between January 2015 and February 2016 by national government departments and SOEs. Of the 80 firms approached, only 20 responded.
The study probed how government departments and SOEs distribute their legal work in terms of race and gender as well as the amount paid.
Among the SOEs, the value of work given to white male advocates was almost three times more than that of Indian males, while black male junior advocates earned four times less than their white male counterparts.
Professor Tsili Phooko, who conducted the research, said the report overall showed that even though white firms and white males get less work, they earn the lion’s share of the money.
The report recommended that a body responsible for reporting be established and that it must ensure work is consistently distributed to all law firms and across all the races.
It also recommended that a similar study be conducted in the private sector to “ensure that the distribution of legal work in all sectors of society is made known to the general public and monitored”.
A multistakeholder action group, which includes representatives of the LSSA, General Council of the Bar, Advocates for Transformation, and the department of justice and constitutional development, was formed during last year’s summit on briefing patterns and has drafted an industry procurement protocol that is set to be signed later this month.