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Gen Z & Law

Generation Z, otherwise known as “Gen Z,” is the demographic cohort succeeding Millennials and preceding Generation Alpha. Gen Z constitutes generation of people born between 1997 and 2012.

Gen Z, in the South African context, is the generation that was perhaps not directly affected by Apartheid, but rather find themselves directly affected by the consequences arising therefrom. Thus, they are the most vocal, racially diverse, and knowledgeable generation. They champion social issues and disrupt the status quo, but are simultaneously glued to their electronic devices.

Gen Z is often associated with technology and digital reform. They were raised in a world where it was and is unusual not to possess an electronic device. Electronic devices provide you with immediate access to work related digital systems and social media, the world’s most used platform for social “interaction and communication.” The integration of technology in the daily life of a Gen Z is inherent and inescapable. Some would argue that it is almost impossible to survive without technology and the internet.

When speaking of Gen Z and Law, the words transformation, disrupters, revolutionize, Artificial Intelligence, paperless, cost effectiveness, expedience and data analytics are some words that are conjured up. Gen Z legal professionals are utilizing legal-technology tools and incorporating them into the profession, making practice more agile, efficient, and adaptable.

Another popular and perhaps controversial movement that, in my view, was premised on the usefulness of technology, is the ability to work remotely. The legal profession has always been associated with long hours and high stress environments. For Gen Z, a work-life balance is imperative. Not needing to be physically present in the office in order to bill, draft, consult with clients, attend meetings, or reach your targets, supports a healthy work-life balance. Gen Z legal professionals have done away with traditional Law Firm Culture, and have introduced a more flexible, but equally optimal approach to the legal profession.

It has been proven that fewer Gen Z attorneys aspire to work at a Big Law Firm. Growing up as digital pioneers and experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic, Gen Z legal professionals have veered away from wanting to go into traditional practice and have developed other career paths in law for them to pursue.

In the recent case of “Ed Food SRL v Africa’s Best (Pty) Ltd (2022/1245) [2024] ZAGPJHC 1619 (14 March 2024), the Respondent raised a point in limine and challenged the Applicant’s founding and confirmatory affidavits on the basis that the affidavits were commissioned virtually and not in the presence of the Commissioner of Oaths as prescribed by Law.  In handing down Judgment, Den Hartog AJ stated that “Courts must open themselves to the modern trend of technology. This does not mean that the court can willy nilly accept non-compliance with Acts and regulations, but must be aware of the requirement that there must be substantial compliance with such Acts and regulations.”

 This case, in my view, is evident of how Gen Z legal practitioners have challenged traditional and outdated legal practices through incorporating creative modern technological trends to facilitate expedience and practicality in situations where strict compliance with regulations could have posed a delay.

Not only is Gen Z revolutionizing the practice of law, but through disruption and challenging the status quo, they are committed to holding decision-makers to account when their establishment is not representative of the changing needs of society.

While every reasonable effort is taken to ensure the accuracy and soundness of the contents of this publication, neither the writers of the articles nor the publisher will bear any responsibility for the consequences of any actions based on information or recommendations contained herein.  Our material is for informational purposes.

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