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Thread: Law Companies in SA that abuse their staff

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    Lightbulb Law Companies in SA that abuse their staff

    For some time now it has been brought to my attention that a lot of very competent young people graduate from one of our law faculties at one of our local universities and join a law firm, only to be worked into the ground. They are expected to work a full day at work and then expected to work well into the night whether from home or the office, and even receive phone calls late at night with a request for work that must be ready by start of work the next morning from one of the partners of the company. And that this happens day after day after day without let up, and month after month, and year after year, and if they object to this treatment they are brought in front of HR and their jobs and even their careers are effectively threatened. Even whilst they are on official holiday leave they can expect a phone call from a partner requesting that work be done. It is my understanding that Candidate attorneys and young associates are particularly vulnerable and pushed to the very edge of what they can bear as functioning human beings, even suicide.

    Indeed, I would have thought that the employer/employee relations within a law firm would be perfect considering that it is the law that they purport to be their guiding light.

    I would like to confirm that my above impressions are indeed true and not just isolated events, especially as I have gained the impression that such treatment of junior staff is fairly ubiquitous and thus wish to hear from people who have been treated in this manner or from people who know of friends who have been subjected to such treatment or who have heard of someone subjected to such treatement, and believe, as I do, that if this is all true, then the practice should be exposed, and receive the criticism and exposure that it is due.

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    Here is a quote from a survey conducted by the Law Society of South Africa: Young Lawyers Survey, 27 January 2019:

    "Finally, in the last question of the survey young lawyers were given the opportunity to raise any other concerns or to share anything else that the LSSA should know. Less than a third of the respondents
    used the opportunity to make further comments. Most of the comments reiterated the points made earlier.
    The majority of comments referred to the poor remuneration, negative work environment, abuse and discrimination experienced by many CAs. A few of the comments made by CAs are quoted verbatim:

    “We are working as slaves. Working at a law firm is like working in hell. We walk around with our hills pretending to be professionals but we are broken inside. We are supervised by secretaries, we have to pick and drop our employer's kids. In order for us to show commitment to our work we have to work until 22: 00 at night, use our cars and petrol to finance the firm,
    not fall pregnant or start a family, not take a leave or fall sick. We need your help.”
    “We are expected to respect the profession, however the profession does not respect CAs.”
    “I as a candidate attorney I have endured abuse and harassment in various forms during my 6 months of articles thus far. I am unable to voice my concerns as I will be severely prejudiced. Until I am able to find another suitable firm to cede my contract of articles the abuse will continue. I am even willing to start my articles from fresh if I am able to find a suitable firm.
    As a law student in university I did not expect such degrading treatment in the legal profession."

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    Is that not a general trend in the corporate world?
    I have seen CEO's announce that "Our staff is our biggest asset", just to be short-changed in salary and other benefits while the directors get paid millions.
    Articled clerks in the accounting profession, trainee artisans or any junior starting out gets the same treatment more or less.
    Excellence is not a skill; its an attitude...

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    Diamond Member adrianh's Avatar
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    ....and then they wonder why everybody leaves this country. I personally know 3 young CAs that left to go to the UK (1 white male, 1 white female and 1 black female)
    “Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
    ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

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