The UCT Law Clinic, which was started by law students in the early 1970s, was the first university law clinic to be established in South Africa. The first community clinic opened in Kensington in 1973, following which other clinics were established in disadvantaged areas in the Western Cape. Students provided legal advice to clients at these clinics, assisted by practicing attorneys. This model was replicated across South Africa in the 1980s, with law faculties appointing attorneys to manage and run the law clinics. In 1989 the UCT Law Clinic appointed its first Director.
Today, the Clinic has evolved from a student run initiative to a fully functioning law practice and a Cape Law Society accredited law clinic operating within the UCT Law Faculty. The Law Clinic is run by a professional staff of experienced practising attorneys who litigate in the District, Regional and High Courts on behalf of indigent people who would otherwise not have access to the law. At the same time, the Clinic provides professional training and exposure to LLB students through the Community Service structure, whereby UCT LLB students must complete 30 hours of community service at a Faculty-accredited legal services provider in order to graduate.
The Centre for Rhetoric Studies, focused on multidisciplinary research in public rhetoric, deliberative democracy and argumentative culture, is based in the UCT Faculty of Law, is recognised as being unique on the African continent where it has pioneered the emergence of Rhetoric Studies. Founded in 1995 by the then Dean of Arts and Centre Director, Distinguished Professor Philippe-Joseph Salazar, Centre for Rhetoric Studies (CRhS) has been graduating M and PhD students in the field since 2000. Past graduates are employed in the high-level roles in civil service across Southern Africa, and some hold academic positions in South Africa, Ghana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe (amongst other places).
The South African Research Chair: Mineral Law in Africa is part of the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) established by the Department of Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation. The Chair is a hotbed for the evaluation and re-conceptualisation of key legal systems in Africa, where extractive industries direct the countries’ economies, or have the potential to do so in future.