Legal clinics medicate legal problems, which, like medical problems, are usually expensive. This is why indigent citizens qualify for free legal assistance from any one of the country’s numerous law clinics. Available through the law departments of most universities, these clinics afford final-year law students first-hand legal experience and needy citizens access to legal services.
After obtaining there LLB in law, students get hands-on experiential training by dealing with live cases. Indigent citizens also benefit by getting qualified legal advice and representation in civil, criminal and labour matters. (Only once students are registered as candidate attorneys as required by the Attorney’s Act of 1979, can they participate in the law clinic programme.)
How to qualify for legal in Johannesburg
To weed out opportunists, law clinics require all applicants to write a means test to determine if they are indigent enough to qualify for free legal assistance. The means test measures an individual’s and his or her spouse’s income and value of total assets. As a general rule, those individuals who own, or have owned, property do not qualify for legal assistance, neither do those who earn more than R3000 per month.
For those who do not qualify for free legal assistance, there is always legal insurance. For a small premium each month, the insured is entitled to 24-hour legal advice and cover (up to a certain amount) in legal representation.
Where to find legal in Johannesburg
As law clinics operate from university law departments, one can be found at Wits and the University of Johannesburg. The law clinic at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg began operating almost 35 years ago as a legal advice office. Students initially volunteered to provide assistance to those with little means, until 1989 where it became compulsory for all fourth-year law students to participate. In 2005 the Wits Law Clinic began working with Legal Aid.
The University of Johannesburg has three law clinics operating under the law department, namely Auckland Park Kingsway Campus law clinic, Doornfontein Campus law clinic and Soweto Campus law clinic. The law clinics provide services to the citizens in the greater Johannesburg area and others further afield.