Bringing the law to the people
New KZN Law Society director Pearl Arnold-mfusi wants to renew public’s trust in legal fraternity
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.