Advocating for social justice inspired by his meetings with Nelson Mandela; establishing one of the first university Law clinics in South Africa; being a National Research Foundation A-rated researcher; and teaching some of South Africa’s best legal minds, are some of the iconic achievements for which Law Professor David McQuoid-Mason of UKZN’s Centre for Socio-Legal Studies will be honoured during the celebration of his 50th anniversary in academia at the University.
McQuoid-Mason began teaching Law in 1971 at the erstwhile University of Natal. He not only established the first law clinic in Durban in 1973, but also founded the first Street Law legal literacy programme in South Africa in 1986. This led to him visiting more than 132 countries to conduct clinical legal education and medico-legal training as well as to assist with the drafting of legal aid legislation.
Formerly the Dean of the Howard College Law School at the erstwhile University of Natal, a position he held for 13 years, McQuoid-Mason specialises in Medical Law and Ethics, Access to Justice, and Legal Education. He has taught legal luminaries such as South Africa’s former Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo, current Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo and National Director of Public Prosecutions Advocate Shamila Batohi. During the apartheid struggle, he worked side-by-side with the late Chief Justice Pius Langa, and other colleagues from the National Association of Democratic Lawyers and the Mass Democratic Movement.
McQuoid-Mason is the President of the Commonwealth Legal Education Association, a former member of the Human Rights, Ethics and Professional Practice Committee of the Health Professions Council of South Africa, and a member of the Steering Committee of the Global Alliance for Justice Education. He was awarded a Special Mention by UNESCO for his work in human rights education; and the ‘Advocate of the Year’ award by Street Law Incorporated (USA). He has received Honorary Doctorates for his worldwide access to justice and clinical legal education work from the University of Windsor in Canada and the University of Northumbria in the United Kingdom.
To date, McQuoid-Mason has published more than 200 articles in law and medical journals, contributed more than 70 chapters to books, and co-authored 24 books and manuals. Never one to slow down, even during a pandemic, he is currently assisting two technical subcommittees of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19, as well as the Gender and Human Rights Commission and private lawyers with Olympic gold medallist, Caster Semenya’s appeal to the European Court on Human Rights. He is also assisting with the review of the Ministry of Health’s proposed standards accreditation criteria for hospitals and general practitioners. He advises nine private hospitals and a number of public hospitals’ ethics committees, individual doctors, academic medical colleagues, and other healthcare personnel on the legal and ethical implications of different aspects of the pandemic and is currently designing training programmes for health practitioners in Ghana and paralegals in Somalia.
In celebration of McQuoid-Mason’s legacy, UKZN will launch an investment fund which will disburse bursaries to financially deserving LLB students who excel in Human Rights Law in June. An international webinar themed: Clinical Legal Education: International Best Practices Pre- Present and Post- the COVID-19 Pandemic will be hosted in September. The celebration of his achievements will culminate in a commemorative publication which will feature research papers from top clinical legal education teachers from all the continents.
Dean of the School of Law, Professor Managay Reddi said that McQuoid-Mason’s colleagues are proud to have someone of his stature in their midst: ‘We feel incredibly privileged to have been the beneficiaries of David’s expert legal knowledge, visionary ideas and wisdom over the years. We look forward to celebrating his rare and wonderful milestone of 50 years at UKZN and wish him many more years in academia.’
Words: Thandiwe Jumo