B-BBEE Sector Charters are mostly based on industries. However, industries can also be professions in some instances. The first time we saw a profession specific Sector Charter was with the Chartered Accountant (CA) Charter which is still under draft. The Legal Sector Charter is the second one.
While both the CA Charter and the Legal Services Charter drive initiatives to strengthen their professions, the latter takes the cake. The draft of the charter, which was released on the 8th of November 2020 for comments, may be the best profession based sector charter. It is highly focused on legal practitioners in all elements and has a practical approach.
Their Management Control element measures the involvement of legal practitioners in their organizational structure. It focuses on positions that matter and are key for a practice. Their inclusion of young legal practitioners from rural areas means that no stone will be left unturned when looking for black talent. This fuses nicely with Skills Development. This element is also specific to legal practitioners, ensuring that Management Control numbers can be reached. There is also an emphasis on training for candidate attorneys and mentorship carried out by senior attorneys and advocates. Training for practitioners to gain managerial experience is also accounted for in the charter. This will eliminate an excuse that black talent is not available.
For the first in B-BBEE, we have seen a target set for procurement from 75% black owned suppliers. While we are familiar with procurement from 51% black owned companies, the Legal Sector Charter has pushed the envelope by making the 75% black owned spend a big part of their measure. This relates to procurement from other legal practitioners and general procurement as well.
In terms of pro-bono activities, they appear under both Enterprise Development and Supplier Development (ESD) as well as Socio-Economic Development (SED). The charter understands that this is a very big part of legal practitioners and cannot be treated as waste. They are very much encouraged under Socio-Economic Development as the entire element is based on pro-bono.
By reading the draft, it is clear from the onset that the charter was well thought through by people who really understand the sector. Not only does it address the challenges of legal practitioners when measured under the normal codes, but it also provides practical solutions to developing black talent in the sector. The only let down is that under procurement, black women seem to have been forgotten.
The draft is available on www.lpc.org.za and is open for comment until 15 December 2020.