THE Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) has expressed concern over the growing number of criminals masquerading as legal practitioners who are short-changing the public.
In an interview yesterday, the LSZ executive secretary Edward Mapara warned the public against engaging “legal practitioners on the streets”.
He also revealed that all legal practitioners who want to practice law and access the courts, in particular in 2024, were currently renewing their practicing certificates.
“Bona fide legal practitioners do not tout. They don’t work like commuter omnibus conductors or touts who approach would-be clients anywhere asking for work in an undignified manner. It is important that the public is aware of how a proper legal practitioner would present themselves,” Mapara said.
“We currently have five designated universities whose legal qualifications are recognised by the Council for Legal Education (CLE).”
Institutions of higher learning offering law degrees in the country include the University of Zimbabwe, Midlands State University, the Great Zimbabwe University, Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University and Africa University.
“For those with foreign qualifications they are assessed by the CLE and where merited are asked to undertake conversion examinations before registration at the High Court,” he said.
Mapara said even with the qualifications and the High Court registration, a legal practitioner who wants to practise law in Zimbabwe was still required to hold a valid practice certificate issued by the society.
“As regulator, the Law Society issues annual practicing certificates to registered legal practitioners who wish to practice in a given year on meeting certain requirements. As we speak our members are in the process of renewing the practicing certificates for the year 2024,” he said.
Mapara said people engaging a legal practitioner should demand that they produce a valid practice certificate for 2024.
“From January 1, 2024, the public can demand the production of a valid practicing certificate covering that year. All bona fide legal practitioners who wish to practise will have one and we are working flat out to ensure that,” he said.
“Engaging properly registered legal practitioners who hold a valid practicing certificate will guarantee clients’ proper service and that in the event loses, they can be compensated under the Compensation Fund.”
The Law Society of Zimbabwe, Mapara said, relied on stakeholders such as the Judicial Services Commission, the police and the National Prosecuting Authority to make sure that those that appear before our courts as legal practitioners are bona fide lawyers.