The four-year undergraduate LLB: progress and pitfalls

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 17
  • SDG 4
  • SDG 1
  • Abstract:

    English: In this paper, the historical and contextual factors that resulted in a change from a postgraduate LLB to an undergraduate LLB, as the single qualification for lawyers in South Africa in 1997 as part of a national transformation agenda, are reviewed. It is timely to consider whether the motivating reasons for introducing a four-year degree, to enhance representivity within the legal profession and to reduce the cost of obtaining a legal education, have been met. Systemic and structural features of post-apartheid South Africa, which reflect the legacy of unequal educational provision, a vast socio-economic divide, and a divided legal profession, continue to hamper attempts to redress past imbalances. A failing school system, ongoing poverty, and the underpreparedness of increasing numbers of students gaining access to higher education have produced data that reveals high university drop-out rates, particularly for African students, and distressingly low levels of student success at tertiary institutions. Dissatisfaction amongst stakeholders regarding the quality of law graduates has added to the current impasse as to how legal education can most effectively be improved. The establishment of a new Ministry of Higher Education and the undertaking of a research project on the effectiveness of the law curriculum by the Council on Higher Education both promise some possibility of flexibility and change in the future.