Johannesburg - It is official: law firms that require prospective candidate attorneys to have a driving licence or car will be guilty of misconduct.
The Legal Practice Council (LPC) has amended its rules that created room for law firms to state in adverts that they sought law graduates with driving licences or their own cars.
Law firms have also been barred from asking prospective candidates in interviews if they have a licence or car.
“It is misconduct … to stipulate in an advertisement that it is a requirement that an applicant must be, or to enquire of an applicant whether he/ she is, in possession of a valid driver’s licence, or owns or has access to the use of a vehicle for use in the course of his/her prospective employment,” said the LPC’s notice.
The LPC made the proposal in July last year. Chairperson Kathleen MatoloDlepu said in a notice at the time that this was counter-transformation.
“The council believes this practice is anti-transformative, and prejudices persons from disadvantaged backgrounds,” she said.
The Black Lawyers Association Student Chapter commended the LPC for taking a stand against the practice.
“It advantaged students coming from well-off families,” spokesperson Mpho Moneoang said yesterday.
“It meant they were the only ones eligible for certain articles. Our position was that students should be put on equal footing. How can I afford a car as a student? It doesn’t make sense. I will be able to acquire those things if I get into a law firm.”
Moneoang said the law sector had several other barriers that the LPC needed to remove.
He said there was a practice among attorney firms of employing candidates from certain universities.
“This is wrong,” he said. Afrikaans was another barrier, Moneoang said. “There are whiteowned firms that say they strictly require a person fluent in Afrikaans and English.
“Perhaps it’s because of their clientele, but you can already see that it will limit those students who can’t speak or read Afrikaans.
“Imagine if my law firm said it would hire only students who knew Sepedi or isiZulu. Do you see what that would do?” Moneoang asked.
“We have to do away with these barriers that exist. It’s not all law firms, but there are some that keep on practising this tradition.”