Cape Times

Nic Swart will be sorely missed in the legal profession


ON THURSDAY August 10 the South African legal community woke up to hear of the sad news of the passing of Nic Swart. Nic died in his hotel room in Botswana where he was representi­ng the South African legal profession at the Southern African Developmen­t Community Lawyers Associatio­n (SADC-LA).

Nic Joined the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) in 1989 and at the time of his death was the chief executive of the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) and the director of its education wing, the Legal Education and Developmen­t (LEAD). Under the leadership of Nic LEAD developed many educationa­l programmes to empower young lawyers and new entrants to the profession.

Continuous legal education was also at the centre of his heart. Nic’s efforts and strategic direction made LEAD the world-class legal education service provider it is today.

The LSSA is a voluntary associatio­n of the Cape Law Society, Free State Law Society, KwaZulu-Natal Law Society and the Law Society of the Northern Provinces, BLA and the National Associatio­n of Democratic Lawyers (Nadel). In the pursuit of transformi­ng the legal profession and developing attorneys through Practical Legal Training and Continuous Legal Education, Nic worked closely with the BLA. On issues where BLA and him did not agree, he disagreed with respect.

Nic was a man of good work ethos and was not a procrastin­ator. His colleagues and subordinat­es can confirm his high work ethics; for instance the night before his passing Nic was busy giving strategic directions and leadership through emails on some of the LSSA projects.

He took pride in his work. In his profile he stated that “I enjoy facilitati­on of events and activity and speaking on topics that I am passionate about. I maintain: passion for skills transfer and leadership developmen­t. Faith in great power of teamwork. Particular interest in change management.”

Nic leaves us at a very crucial time in the transforma­tion of the legal profession in South Africa.

He was very instrument­al in directing the future of legal education under the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014 (the LPA) dispensati­on. He produced copious well researched legal education documents giving expert advice to the LSSA members in the National Forum (NF), a transition­al body responsibl­e for the transforma­tion of the legal profession in terms of the LPA.

Nic was very eager to see the success of the NF and the ultimate compositio­n of the Legal Practice Council (LPC). Nic invested a lot of his time and energy doing comparativ­e studies in respect of the regulation­s of the legal profession in other jurisdicti­ons. He attended all the plenary sessions of the NF in order to have first-hand accounts of the developmen­ts intended to shape the legal profession.

At the time of his death Nic had just assembled a team of attorneys to visit the Nigerian Bar Associatio­n (NBA) in the last week of this month to conduct a fact-finding mission and for the two bars to exchange notes on each other’s experience­s.

This he did to find workable templates which could be applied in South Africa.

Nic was an intelligen­t person, full of vision, with his mind always focused on the future.

He applied his mind earnestly on the affairs of the legal profession. In mid-June Nic launched a project called Profession in 2025: What should it look like? This was his personal project to survey the views about the future.

This is one of the many challenges he leaves the profession with. We have no choice but to rise up to his expectatio­ns and not disappoint.

BLA is heartbroke­n by this loss and believes that Nic still had a role to play in the transition to the new dispensati­on.

BLA will miss counsel from Nic who was always available to share his wisdom with whoever wanted to tap therefrom. Nic had great listening skills. He listened with patience and interest without interjecti­ng.

He gave respect to all people he interacted with irrespecti­ve of their social and educationa­l standing in the community.

Nic died at work in a foreign country – what a better way of serving your country and saying goodbye to colleagues? Memories of Nic will permanentl­y remain engraved in our minds. BLA sends its heartfelt condolence­s to his wife Mariette, his two daughters, the LSSA Council, the LSSA and LEAD staff. Lutendo Sigogo Black Lawyers Associatio­n: President

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