The deputy minister of justice, Mr John Jeffery has expressed concern at the number of Africans than are employed by the South African Law firms, particularly the big corporate ones.
He said this in a prepared speech delivered at the meeting of the Law Society of Northern Provinces over the weekend at Sun City. He said that the boardrooms of these large corporate firms do not reflect the ethnicity in the graduates that leave law schools around the country. According to the figures that he presented, the majority of graduates from Law school were black and female but this was not reflected by the partners in these companies which were mostly white and male.
According to the deputy minister, of the 2011 law graduates, 1784 were African, 355, colored, 404 Indian and 1268 were white. This begs the question then why the majority of lawyers with articles are white. He presented the following figures to support his contention; of the over twelve thousand lawyers employed by the Northern Provinces Law Society which comprises Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West, well over eight thousand of these lawyers are white while a mere three thousand are black.
He presents another dimension of this inequality as he divulges that from the graduands, the majority were female, 1954 compared to 1622. However, he argues, this is not reflected in the membership of this elite group of lawyers which has more men than women.
Minister Jeffrey goes on to present another discrepancy which is based on the registration of articles. He argues that of the 1104 articles registered in 2012, 587 were white while only 412 African, 89 Indian and sixteen were Coloured. This, he contends is not representative of the population in any form.
Mr John Jeffrey informed the meeting that his office found that it was the ‘big’ companies that seemed to be the culprits at this and insisted that this created a very disheartening picture. He argues that there is a need for change and that this change was possible given that other companies were more reflective of the population trends in the country. He cited companies in finance such as Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo which were black owned and whose boardrooms were a good representation of the situation in South Africa as well as in institutions of higher learning.