Current LLB students will not be affected by canning of degree at Wits

A throughput rate of only 30% is the primary reason for the discontinuation of the four-year LLB undergraduate degree at Wits.

The Wits School of Law announced earlier today that it will be dropping the degree from 2015 and introducing a postgraduate LLB at the same time.

Wits Vuvuzela spoke to Professor Vinodh Jaichand, head of the Wits School of Law, about the decision.

According to Jaichand, only about 30% of students finish their law degree in four years and even fewer become successful lawyers.

Jaichand said graduates of the degree need be able to practice in society with more than just textbook knowledge and added that it is an experiential issue.

LAWS OF LIFE: Professor Vinodh Jaichand explained that students do not have enough experience to enter the law profession with their undergraduate degrees. Photo: Bongiwe Tutu

LAWS OF LIFE: Professor Vinodh Jaichand explained that students do not have enough experience to enter the law profession with their undergraduate degrees. Photo: Bongiwe Tutu

He also said: “the students who leave Wits Law School are very good but they might well be a little bit short on life skills.” He added that, for example, while graduates might be able to litigate a divorce according to a textbook, they may “have difficulty in fully understanding the nuances of a divorce.”

He said the changes in the School of Law will help students to complete their degrees within the minimum required time, and assist with the mounting costs of additional years of study due to a high failure rate.

Jaichand also said that students who do the postgraduate LLB with an undergraduate degree in fields other than law will open more doors to a variety of career opportunities ensuring that students who study law can work “beyond the courtroom.”

Witsies who are currently enrolled in the four-year undergraduate LLB will not be affected by the change. From next year only students with a prior undergraduate degree will be able to enrol for the Bachelor of Laws degree. The BA Law and BComm Law degree remain unaffected by the change.

Jaichand also said there will be no retrenchments within the School with the implementation of the new system.

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