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Yearend newsletter 2023

2023 has been another busy year filled with exciting transactions and wins for our clients, meaningful pro bono work, and recognition for our lawyers and their achievements in the form of awards and legal directory rankings.

 

Our continuous endeavour is to provide the best possible legal services to our clients. In addition, we provide some of these services for free to those most in need and least able to pay. Read about some of our outreach and pro bono projects below.

 

We thank you, our clients, for your ongoing support and wish you and those near and dear to you peace, prosperity, good health, and happiness over the festive season and a happy and exciting 2024.

Jeff Buckland, Veronica Vurgarellis, SJ Thema

Lawtons Africa Management Board

Legal Directory Rankings

 

Over the years, the firm and our lawyers have been ranked consistently in various legal directories.

We are pleased to report that 2023 was no different.  

Chambers Global 2023

 

 

Legal 500

Best Lawyers

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AWARDS

 

Business Today Lawyer Awards 2023

Veronica Vurgarellis has been recognised as one of the top 10 most influential Dispute Resolution Lawyers in South Africa by the Business Today Lawyer Awards 2023.

 

African Legal Awards 2023

The Westbury Peace Project, a Lawtons Africa initiative, has won the African Legal Awards Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Diversity, Transformation and Economic Empowerment Award.

 

Westbury has been plagued by violent crimes and drug-related issues for years. Determined to make a difference, our team embarked on a journey into this community with the aim of empowering its brave residents. Through the Westbury Peace Project, we have been training a group of dedicated volunteers who selflessly risk their lives every day to serve as street patrollers in the newly formed Westbury Community Policing Forum.
 

ProBono.Org Award

Sarah Goldman, our Head of Pro Bono and Citizenship, won the Housing Law Award at the ProBono.Org 2022 Awards ceremony on 26 January 2023.

JOB CREATION AND ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT

YES Initiative

Empowering our youth is close to our hearts. Since its inception in 2019, Lawtons Africa has participated in the YES (Youth Employment Service) programme, a joint initiative by the private sector and government to reduce youth unemployment. Our new intake this year consist of seven candidates.

PRO BONO & OUTREACH

The 16 Days of Activism

In the spirit of this campaign, we joined forces with Defence Unlimited to make a lasting impact on the lives of students in Eldorado Park. Defence Unlimited's skilled self-defence instructor, Warren Ho, led an interactive workshop where he taught young girls how to protect themselves from physical harm.

In the heart of Kliptown, we embarked on a transformative journey as part of our commitment to #16daysofactivism. We led a poetry writing and awareness workshop for teenage girls, amplifying their voices to combat the pervasive issue of gender-based violence. The workshop sought to equip these young minds with the tools and knowledge to speak out against injustice. Empowering them to articulate their experiences through the medium of poetry was a deliberate step towards fostering self-expression and resilience.

These events were a reminder of the responsibility we bear as legal professionals to advocate for justice beyond the courtroom. It underscored the urgent need for a societal shift in addressing gender-based violence, a multifaceted issue that demands our unwavering commitment.

National Wills Week

Language should never be a barrier when it comes to safeguarding your legacy and protecting your loved ones. To celebrate our heritage, and in honour of National Wills week, volunteers from Lawtons Africa have drafted simple will templates in a variety of South African languages. All templates are free to download, edit and use, To download in a language of your choice, please click here.

 

In addition, we celebrated National Wills Week by providing advice on the administration of estates and drafting wills free of charge for members of the public at the Master’s Office in Johannesburg from

11-15 September 2023.

Women’s Month

This Women’s Month, our Lawtons ladies travelled to Kliptown to share their professional advice and experience with the Power Girls Club. Power Girls is an incredible initiative that inspires girls in underprivileged communities to become confident, independent and successful young women.
 
Our Head of Human Resources, Lindi Mengezeleli, encouraged the Power Girls to research their career choices and remain focused and driven, even in the face of adversity. She discussed funding options for studying, various career entry options, and the importance of making the most of every opportunity.


Property Empowerment Workshop: Enhancing Community Understanding of Property Rights

Many South Africans do not understand their property rights, leaving them open to exploitation and victimisation. Lawtons Africa conducted intensive legal empowerment “property rights” workshops in Kliptown and Eldorado Park.

 

The workshops focused on property-related matters, such as learning how to read and understand lease agreements and title deeds, and deal with property ownership disputes and illegal evictions. The workshops are carried out in partnership with P.U.S.H (Persevere Until Something Happens), a social upliftment non-profit organisation committed to bettering the greater Eldorado Park region.

Mandela Day

This year, we had the incredible opportunity to make a difference in the lives of young learners at Dr Knak Primary School in Alexandra. We created colourful and exciting reading corners for the grade 1, 2, and 3 classes. These cozy spaces now feature bookshelves, an array of captivating books, plush pillows, and snug blankets to ensure a warm and comfortable reading experience for every child.
 
We are immensely grateful to the incredible staff, teachers, and volunteers who collaborated with us on this project. Together, we have taken a small but significant step towards empowering these bright young minds and igniting their curiosity.

LifeLine Legal Education Partnership: Equipping Social Workers with Legal Knowledge

LifeLine is a crisis counselling non-profit organisation that operates throughout South Africa. It assists and supports survivors of gender-based violence, domestic abuse and also offers HIV/Aids counselling services.


Our Head of Pro Bono and Citizenship, Sarah Goldman, assisted by other Lawtons Africa legal experts, designed a programme and facilitated training to provide social workers and counsellors with vital legal knowledge. Equipped with a better understanding of the law, we empower counsellors to be in a better position to provide more informed and effective support to survivors of abuse.

The Lawtons Africa training and education initiative and project at the LifeLine South Africa Head Office is a powerful aid to the counsellors and will now be rolled out to assist LifeLine social workers nationwide. This project aims to bridge the gap between essential legal knowledge and frontline social counselling work, ultimately leading to improved access to justice for vulnerable individuals.

Youth Leadership Summit: Upskilling Young Entrepreneurs

In honour of Youth Day, Lawtons Africa collaborated with Believers Care Society, a public benefit organisation dedicated to the youth and their development.

 

Together with officials from the Department of Labour, we introduced young entrepreneurs to company law at the annual Youth Leadership Summit. We focused on the intricacies of company registration, industry-specific legal compliance, and tax implications. The enthusiasm in the room was truly inspiring, and we are in awe of the future generation of young entrepreneurs who will contribute to the growth and prosperity of South Africa.

 

Freedom Day: Promoting Voter Education in Alexandra

Freedom Day celebrates the first democratic elections held in South Africa from 26 April to 29 April 1994. Every year on 27 April, we remember the rise of equality and the birth of our democratic dispensation.

On Freedom Day 2023, we visited MC Weiler Primary School in the township of Alexandra, Johannesburg. Learners participated in a voter education programme and mock election, complete with exciting campaigning guided by the rules of the Independent Electoral Commission. By engaging with young minds and fostering an understanding of their rights and responsibilities as future leaders and voters, learners were actively empowered to shape our communities and nation.

 

World Social Justice Day: Empowering the Homeless through Poetry

World Social Justice Day, also known as International Day of Social Justice, is observed annually on 20 February. On this day, individuals, corporates, and government are encouraged to engage in advocacy to lay the foundation for a more inclusive society built on equality, non-racialism, and non-sexism.

On World Social Justice Day 2023, we joined hands with the New Beginnings Foundation, a shelter for the homeless in Boksburg. We presented on the importance of social justice and facilitated a poetry-writing workshop for the shelter residents to help them share their personal experiences and hopes through poetry. The project fostered an awareness of community, empathy, and social change within the shelter.

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