Bring­ing the law to the peo­ple

New KZN Law So­ci­ety di­rec­tor Pearl Arnold-mfusi wants to re­new pub­lic’s trust in le­gal fra­ter­nity

Sunday Tribune - - FRONT PAGE -

LE­GAL ea­gle Pearl Arnold-mfusi has landed a top lead­er­ship po­si­tion at a time when the coun­try’s le­gal fra­ter­nity is due to un­dergo sweep­ing changes to make it more user­friendly and just.

Arnold-mfusi, 36, was ap­pointed di­rec­tor of the KZN Law So­ci­ety last month and be­came the first woman to hold the post.

How­ever, from Oc­to­ber law so­ci­eties around the coun­try will cease to ex­ist and will be re­placed by the SA Le­gal Prac­tice Coun­cil (SALPC).

The new body will com­prise pro­vin­cial coun­cils and, for the first time, have ad­vo­cates and at­tor­neys all aligned to a sin­gle reg­u­la­tory body.

The SALPC be­came a re­al­ity through the work­ings of the Le­gal Prac­tice Bill, which was the brain­child of for­mer min­is­ter of jus­tice Dul­lah Omar. It came into ef­fect in 2014.

The Bill aims to en­sure that the le­gal pro­fes­sion not only trans­forms but is also in­de­pen­dent, es­pouses the val­ues of the Con­sti­tu­tion and hon­ours the rule of law.

The change will not af­fect Arnold-mfusi’s ap­point­ment though. She will con­tinue as the ad­min­is­tra­tive head of the coun­cil’s op­er­a­tions in KZN.

Arnold-mfusi said she was look­ing for­ward to stamp­ing her in­di­vid­u­al­ity on le­gal ser­vices in the prov­ince.

She said mak­ing le­gal ser­vices more eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble to the pub­lic and trans­form­ing the pro­fes­sion were close to her heart.

She presently lives with her two chil­dren in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg. But grow­ing up in Went­worth, the south of Dur­ban com­mu­nity that has been been plagued by gang­ster­ism and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence for years, mo­ti­vated Arnold-mfusi to pur­sue a ca­reer in law.

She is sat­is­fied that so far in her 11 years in the le­gal fra­ter­nity she has had a pos­i­tive im­pact on the lives of or­di­nary South Africans.

“I am pas­sion­ate about is­sues that af­fect peo­ple, es­pe­cially those who do not have a voice. I be­lieve this is the one pro­fes­sion that could place me in a po­si­tion of in­flu­ence and be a part of pos­i­tive so­cial change,” she said.

“We as­sist peo­ple who have had their trust vi­o­lated by at­tor­neys but at the same time we en­sure the eth­i­cal val­ues and in­tegrity of the pro­fes­sion are main­tained.”

Arnold-mfusi ac­knowl­edges that al­though at­tor­neys are ex­pected to pro­tect the pub­lic and fight for jus­tice they too also some­times get on the wrong side of the law.

She said while it was a pity that iso­lated in­ci­dents of at­tor­neys mis­be­hav­ing be­came highly pub­li­cised, she was sat­is­fied that the le­gal pro­fes­sion had peo­ple of in­tegrity.

“I want to cre­ate a plat­form for peo­ple to feel se­cure to use the ser­vices of at­tor­neys and in the event some­thing goes wrong to have re­course in the form of the so­ci­ety to en­sure jus­tice is achieved,” she said. Im­prov­ing the re­la­tion­ship be­tween her or­gan­i­sa­tion and le­gal prac­ti­tion­ers was an­other of her goals, she said.

“We are a reg­u­la­tory body so we are seen to be­ing with a stick to en­force dis­ci­pline but I want to move to a cul­ture where at­tor­neys are will­ing to com­ply with what is re­quired of them.

“It’s bet­ter to en­sure com­pli­ance than have to en­force dis­ci­pline,” she said. As­sif Essa, pres­i­dent of the KZN Law So­ci­ety, said they couldn’t have picked a bet­ter per­son than Arnold-mfusi to lead their or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“She is an ami­able, am­bi­tious and en­er­getic in­di­vid­ual who has all the at­tributes of mak­ing an ab­so­lute suc­cess of her ca­reer and her new re­spon­si­bil­i­ties,” he said.

“She shares the vi­sion that the pub­lic per­cep­tion of the law so­ci­ety be en­hanced and in her po­si­tion she would serve a key lead­er­ship role in the tran­si­tion of the pro­fes­sion, and she is al­ready un­der­tak­ing this task in cer­tain key ar­eas.”

At­tor­ney Poo­bie Govin­d­samy also con­grat­u­lated Arnold-mfusi on her new post.

“She is def­i­nitely de­serv­ing of this po­si­tion with her wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence. You can see that she has the in­ter­est at heart of both the pub­lic and le­gal prac­ti­tion­ers,” said Govin­d­samy.

Pearl Arnold-mfusi, 36, was ap­pointed di­rec­tor of the KZN Law So­ci­ety last month and be­came the first woman to hold the post.

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