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19 June 2019
From Bush To Bench: Celebrating 40 Years Of Law At UWC

(Published - 19 June 2019)

If there’s one thing the University of the Western Cape knows, it’s the law - whether it’s protesting against an unjust apartheid system, helping to craft a newly-democratic South African constitution, drafting legislation on local government and children’s rights, or pursuing justice in environmental law, labour law and criminal law, the University’s Faculty of Law is sure to have had a role to play.

For forty years, UWC Law alumni, students and staff (men and women alike) have made their mark in the world, researching and debating, taking part in international competitions, winning national and international awards and producing groundbreaking research - as well as providing legal outreach and counselling for those who need it.

The vision of the Faculty is captured in its strategic plan: "The Faculty of Law is committed to being a prominent law faculty, renowned nationally and internationally for its high quality research publications, specifically in certain niche areas, for its innovative ideas, for developing graduates within the minimum prescribed time who are committed to social justice, and are furthermore well-qualified, workplace-ready, technologically equipped and have adaptive expertise for the 21st century, as well as for its extensive social engagement."

Here are five things you may not have known about UWC’s Faculty of Law...

1. Democracy For All - UWC Shaping The World: In the 1990s, the University of the Western Cape Law Faculty played an important role in cementing South Africa’s new democracy. UWC ‘s Dullah Omar Institute (then the Community Law Centre) played a key role in the drafting of the interim and current Constitutions. Through engaged research, teaching and advocacy, the Institute currently supports processes in South Africa and the region to build inclusive, resilient states that are accountable to citizens and responsive to human rights.

2. Leading Lawyers - UWC Lawyers Everywhere: UWC’s Faculty of Law graduates leading lawyers and judges, as well as senior people in government and business. The fully-accredited LLB degree, which also develops practical legal skills, gives graduates entrance to all branches of the legal profession. Human rights – including areas of specialisation such as environmental rights, socioeconomic rights and children’s rights – provide anchor areas of high-quality in research and are offered at postgraduate level in LLM and LLD studies. The faculty’s postgraduate areas of specialisation also include international trade, business and investment law, labour law, comparative constitutional law, multi-level governance and the law of economic crimes.

3. Expanding Excellence - 21st Century Law: The Law Faculty is fully committed to meeting the legal challenges of an increasingly complex and globalised world. That’s why the Faculty has identified established and emerging niche areas or fields of excellence to concentrate on. These are areas of research and teaching strength, with national and international partnerships. They include (among others): Labour law in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (increasingly important in a world of automation and innovation); Global environmental law (to cope with the challenges of growth and climate change); and the law of economic crime (particularly appropriate in an age of state capture and fraud).

4. Legal Aid - Justice For All: The UWC Law Clinic operates as a law practice run by a professional staff of experienced attorneys, providing free legal services to indigent communities in the surrounding Cape Metro, Boland and West Coast Region of the Western Cape. The Clinic has always had the reputation of being the leading clinic within the region and one of the best clinics in South Africa. Since its inception, it has operated consistently within the University’s guiding principles of being of value to its students and the community it serves. It fulfils these twin needs of access to justice for its clientele, and provides senior law students with clinical legal education and training.

5. Legal Lectures - Law For The People: Since their establishment in 2008, the Dullah Omar Memorial Lectures have taken place annually to honour the late Advocate Dullah Omar, the founding Director of the University of the Western Cape’s Community Law Centre and former Minister of Justice. Omar believed in dealing with the big issues of the day openly and directly. His ministry oversaw the establishment of the Constitutional Court and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and laid the groundwork for a meaningful transformation of the judiciary. Previous speakers at the lectures include former President Thabo Mbeki, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and former Constitutional Court Judge, Albie Sachs.


Want to know more about the University of the Western Cape’s Faculty of Law? Why not visit the website? And if you want to know what’s happening right now, just check out the latest UWC Law newsletter.