Is “Lawyers Working Smart™” (LWS) a law firm?
No. LWS is an enabling and developing marketing and social media platform which helps connect lawyers with member of the public or potential new clients with the view to make legal services more accessible in South Africa in accordance with the objective of the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014. LWFH offers membership options to lawyers who are approved to join as lawyers on LWS and pay a monthly membership fee.
Can any lawyer on LWS take formal instructions from the public to provide legal services?
No. Some lawyers will only subscribe to LWS with a view to develop their professional public lawyer profile, to network with peers, and be part of community of lawyers who are building legal practices for the future. Not all lawyers prefer to work for their own account and some may be looking for new full-time/ad hoc legal job or articles (compulsory vocational training for lawyers who desire to become Practising Attorneys or Practising Advocates). The profile of a lawyer on LWS will indicate his/her availability, lawyer type status and competencies to take on instructions or provide any formal legal services to the public. LWFH was further developed to make it easy for lawyers who subscribe and desire to start a legal practice to start practising for their own account and earn an income by providing legal services to clients on remote basis. Practising lawyers not working for their own account, will indicate if they are a member of a different legal practice, company or firm.
Do all lawyers charge legal fees?
No. Pro Bono lawyers work for non-profit organisations or universities in the form of Law Clinics which provide free legal services to clients who meet certain criteria and cannot afford to pay legal fees. Pro bono lawyers do not earn salaries and rely on sponsorships to cover their costs. They are governed by the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014. In course candidate legal practitioners (candidate attorneys and pupils) will also be required to provide pro bono legal services as part of community services. Many other lawyers are further willing to help out with good causes on pro bono basis, depending on their capacity and resources. Law is a serving profession.
Do lawyers start billing from the time of first contact?
No. Lawyers need to get some information from you to determine whether they are the right lawyer for you and if they can provide the specific legal service you need. Some lawyers offer a free first consultation (via video conferencing or phone) to ascertain your requirements and make a recommendation on how to instruct them. Consider what legal issue you want to ask about, before contacting a lawyer. Do not hesitate to contact a lawyer for information on their legal services and to ascertain if he/she can help you. Lawyers are here to help.
Can any lawyer render any legal service?
No. There are different types of lawyer categories which determine the status and capacity of a lawyer to offer certain types of legal services. For instance, if your matter may involve a court proceedings, only Practising Attorneys (with assistance of a Referral Advocate) and Trust Account Advocates could represent you in such proceedings. Further, conveyancing services (eg registration of bonds or ownership of properties at the Deeds Offices) can only be provided by Practising Attorneys who are also qualified Conveyancers. Similarly, if you need an anti-nuptial contract (an “ANC”) before getting married, such agreement can only be notarised in terms of the law by a Practising Attorney who is also a qualified Notary. Further, a lawyer’s seniority sometimes also determine competency to handle complex matters.
How do I appoint a lawyer?
You contact the lawyer directly via email, text or phone call to make contact. LWS is not a party to a contract between a client and a lawyer. Before instructing a lawyer, read about who lawyers are, search our database of lawyers and carefully review lawyer profiles. You can then directly make contact with the lawyer you choose and will trust with your matter. Upon receiving your instructions, the lawyer is likely to send you his/her own written engagement terms and/or discuss and agree fees directly with you. If you are instructing a Practising Attorney, Practising Trust Account Advocate or a Practising Referral Advocate (if you are a Practising Attorney) or a Pro Bono lawyer, your working relationship with such lawyers will automatically be governed by the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014.
We know you may have more questions about lawyers or the LWS platform. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to give feedback or ask your questions about lawyers.