Pupillage underway for aspirant SANDF barristers

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Practical legal training for 10 selected military legal students – pupillage – is underway at the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Legal Services Division School of Military Justice in Centurion.

The 10 will spend this year at the school as part of overall efforts to become barristers. A definition has it pupillage is “a 12 month training period for those aiming to qualify as barristers, usually spent in barristers’ chambers”. It is divided into two six-month periods with the first six spent “shadowing” cases of an experienced barrister. In the second six, students may take on own work.

Staff Sergeant Itumeleng Makhubela writes those on pupillage include staff from Defence Legal Services and the SANDF “secretariat”.

The School of Military Justice is accredited to provide practical vocational training (PVT) to candidate legal practitioners for a three year period. Training at the school affords the opportunity to couple theory and practice of law, its related concepts and mastering dimensions of legal practice.

The Pan African Bar Association of South Africa (PABASA) partnered with the SANDF to run the pupillage programme for military legal eagles in the making, according to its chair Advocate Elizabeth Baloyi-Mere. She said the association assisted in drafting the curriculum and ensuring its accreditation by the Legal Practice Council.

According to her, advocates – through mentorship – give pupils practical training by allowing them to draft documentation, observe in court and later assist in court and address the bench.

SANDF Chief General Rudzani Maphwanya was on hand to welcome the aspirant advocates at the School of Military Justice during the inaugural opening practical vocation training. He said the school complied and satisfied all required administrative institutional arrangements with the Legal Services Division going through all stages of approval from the Plenary Defence Staff Council to the Legal Practices Council last year.