The legal practice landscape has changed forever with the first Virtual Advocates Chambers, which went live this week – all thanks to three innovative women. A Pretoria News report notes that not only is it a first for SA, but it is said to be the first of this kind in the world. About 14 months ago during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ronelle Ferguson, an advocate since 1999, realised that being forced to practise remotely during the first hard lockdown and being able to do so presented an alternative to the traditional manner of operating advocates’ chambers. She brainstormed with Bongiwe Dube, her long-standing personal assistant and practice manager, and Rene Janse van Rensburg, a marketing and brand manager.
Together, these women turned decades of old-style advocacy practice on its head with a completely online alternative – Virtual Chambers. Virtual Chambers leveraged a web and mobile development agency to create a fully integrated online advocates chambers with common rooms, conference rooms, lecture rooms, and access to court rolls. It includes an exclusive members’ area with notice boards, industry news, and a live feed to the SCA and Constitutional Court. ‘This geographically unlimited legal modernization is set to be a life raft for young advocates,’ said Ferguson. ‘The pandemic has limited their access to court, and hindered their opportunity to learn from their colleagues, something the Virtual Chambers’ founders hope to rectify.’ There is even the end-of-the-week virtual pub, just a click away, where colleagues can share their week’s trials and tribulations.