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Centre for Applied Legal Studies

The Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) was founded in 1878 within the School of Law at the University of Witwatersrand. During the period of political negotiations and Constitution-making in South Africa which followed the unbanning of the African National Congress and other prohibited political organisations, CALS entered an era in which its members played a central role in the writing of the new Constitution. The work of CALS diversified during this time, dividing into several research programmes focusing on key areas of human rights. After 1994, CALS programmes were involved in developing many of the new policy and legislative measures that were put in place, particularly in the fields of administrative law, discrimination law, law relating to women's rights, labour law, AIDS related law, and land law.

The recent work of CALS has been focused on issues of implementation and enforcement of rights and on 'law in practice,' and continues to work on a range of human rights related issues. CALS currently has five operational programmes:

Basic Services Programme

The current work of the Basic Services Programme concentrates largely on giving content to and ensuring the practical implementation of the right to adequate housing and protection from arbitrary eviction, particularly in Johannesburg where poor and marginalised communities are regularly evicted from their homes. In addition to extensive research and advocacy work in this field, CALS represents a large number of communities in the Johannesburg inner city who face eviction, and has been at the forefront of develping the constitutional jurisprudence in this area.

The Programme also focuses on the provision of other basic services such as electricity and water.

Education Programme

The Education Programme works towards ensuring the realisation of the right to education through impact-oriented research focusing on projects that aim to facilitate improved educational opportunities and quality education for children in South Africa. The Programme also engages and raises awareness with administrators and other relevant stakeholders regarding their legal obligations, in order to develop education policies and strategies that ensure that the right to education is realised by all citizens regardless of socio-economic standing or geographic location in South Africa.

Environment Programme

The Environment Porgramme works towards making the environmental right a tangible reality for all who live in South Africa. The Programme adopts as the basic premise of its work that a healthy environment is critical for the development of all people, especially poor and marginalised communities who have limited options in terms of choosing the enivronment in which they live. The work is driving by the need to facilitate access to the processes through which communities can be involved in combating unacceptable environmental degradation.

Gender Programme

The work of the Gender Programme explores the intersection of socio-economic rights issues and gender rights, and facilitating dialogue and heightened awareness of gender issues among lawyers and activists working within various socio-economic rights sectors.

Rule of Law Programme

The latest addition to the Programmes at CALS, the Rule of Law Programme, aims to ensure that the rule of law, as one of the founding values of a democratic South Africa, is upheld. The Programme litigated its first case in 2011, a challenge in the Constitutional Court to the constitutionality to the legislation in terms of which the President purported to extend the tenure of the previous Chief Justice. The challenge was successful and the case has made an important contribution to the jurisprudence on the rule of law issues involved. The Programme is currently working on criminal justice issues, particularly the conditions of remand detainees.

For additional information on the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, please visit their website.

Nature of the Extern's Work and Supervision

During the proposed duration of the externship, the student can expect to be invovled in such activities as:

Desktop research on particular legal issues in support of advocacy and litigation activities.

Field research in communities by canvassing issues such as community attitudes to coal mining development or assisting with 'rights education' workshops as part of a community capacity building initiative.

  • Assisting in the drafting of pleadings and legal opinions.
  • Assisting in the drafting of research reports.
  • Providing input into draft policies and legislation.
  • Preparing documents for court.
  • Attending meetings with clients, counsel, and partners.
  • Case management.

Supervision and Accountability

Day-to-day supervision of externs is done by the attorney working in the programme in which the student is placed. Oversight of the Internship Programme as a whole is performed by the Head of Programmes. Further details as to reporting channels, accountability, and team meetings will be discussed with the student on arrival.

CALS requires all interns to submit a detailed report about their internship experience at the conclusion of the internship.

Important Information for Students

Externs are provided with office space but not necessarily to a computer and are therefore requested to bring their own laptops if possible.

All externships are on a volunteer basis; students must have their own funding source. Students will be reimbursed for all reasonable travel undertaken on behalf of CALS during the internship, such as for field research purposes).