Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe File photo: INLSA
THE Black Lawyers Association (BLA) faces a number of challenges, chief among them is the lack of legal work, which will be laid out at the association’s conference today.

BLA president Lutendo Sigogo emphasised the struggle for black lawyers to find work - not even from the state, which advocates for affirmative action.

The conference has been graced by the presence of dignitaries including, among others, High Court judge president John Hlophe.

Sigogo said the cause of the skewed briefing patterns and legal instructions is due to the misguided belief that black legal practitioners were incompetent, and the fact that captains of industry remain largely white men.

He said many of the white lawyers preferred their own when they considered instructing legal practitioners.

“We believe that this is, among others, a result of the prejudice and stereotypes that people in position to issue legal instructions and briefs are suffering from,” Sigogo said.

“The natural consequence of not providing black legal practitioners with quality briefs is that we end up without people suitably qualified to be considered for judicial appointments.

“We believe that in the Western Cape the pace of transforming the bench is slow because of this challenge,” he said.

Sigogo said another challenge in the Western Cape is that black lawyers were in the minority in contrast to their white counterparts.

“This is a result of slow pace of transformation of the legal profession,” he said.

The association, made of branches which are in line with the country’s provinces, considers itself the mouthpiece of black lawyers.