Advice Office Program
The objective of the project is to provide support and back-up legal services to paralegal advice offices throughout the Eastern Cape Province. This support is in the form of training, support and guidance of paralegals’ work and referral of cases from advice offices. The emphasis of the project is on building the capacity of paralegals to offer a better service to their clients.
Circuit Visits & Back Up Services
Clinic staff provide periodic on-site visits to Advice Offices, during which paralegals are assisted with their work “on the job”, are evaluated on their work and refer cases to the Clinic with which they need help (e.g. cases ripe for litigation). In this way the Clinic’s training and legal service provision extends far beyond the Grahamstown district, with an emphasis on the neglected North Eastern Cape and Karoo regions, as well as some remote areas of the former Transkei and Ciskei.
Legal Practitioners from both the Grahamstown and Queenstown offices visit advice offices throughout the province at regular intervals during the year. They are accompanied by an administrative staff member. The province is divided into four circuits, each with it's own appointed team. This team provide advice and support during their on-site visit by provide the paralegal and administrative staff with guidance and information on the legal and administration as requested by the staff of the advice office. The Legal Practitioners will see clients at the request of the advice office, during the visit, and may even request the advice office to arrange consultations with clients where matters have been referred to the clinic from the advice office. In these matters, that require the services of an attorney, the Clinic assists the client with the paralegal acting as the ‘instructing attorney’.
The clinic also offers constant telephonic support on both administration and, most importantly, on legal matters. It is not necessary for an advice office to wait for a circuit visit to either request advice or to refer a matter to the clinic. An advice office is also not resticted to speaking only to a person on their assigned team, but may approach any attorney if their attorney is, at that moment, unavailable.
The purpose of training is to directly and comprehensively address specific learning needs identified by paralegals. This is achieved through a 5-day long module presented on thoroughly researched and prepared topics in an easy to understand and user-friendly manner. Road Shows were introduced in 2008 which allow for four centralised training venues throughout the province where relevant legal topics are discussed with the paralegals. The Road Shows have allowed us to reach greater numbers of paralegals, and to be more reactive to the needs of the paralegals. We are also able to more quickly disseminate information with regards changes to the law or other updates.
All training aims to equip paralegals with the basic legal knowledge and skills needed to enable them to give basic legal advice and provide legal representation to clients in remote rural areas.
In many rural magisterial districts there are no attorneys, so paralegals are the only legal service providers. Where there are attorneys, the vast majority of the local population cannot afford them. Paralegal Training empowers paralegals to provide improved and increased services to their communities. Such training therefore has the direct result of enhanced legal service provision to poor and marginalized rural people throughout the Eastern Cape Province in areas where it would not be possible for Clinic staff to service clients directly. In 2008 advice office administration was highlighted as an area where Advice Office’s needed assistance and the November training module focussed on this aspect to assist their organisations further.
RULAC actively supports NADCAO (National Alliance for the Development of Community Advice Offices) with its initiative to assist advice offices to form representative bodies (forums) at provincial and national level, which will engage with government and other structures. The forum has also indicated that uniformity of operations and standards is desirable.
For more information for Advice Office see:
Last Modified: Tue, 13 Jun 2017 11:50:23 SAST