Professor David McQuoid-Mason, Professor Emeritus of the Commonwealth Legal Education Association (CLEA) and GAJE Director Emeritus, recently received the ALM Law.Com International: The African Legal Awards 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award, hosted by the Corporate Counsel Association of South Africa (CCASA) in Johannesburg, South Africa on 1 September 2023. The Ceremony formed part of the International Corporate Counsel awards for different categories of law firms and lawyers from all over Africa, and was attended by over 300 lawyers. He was introduced by one of the judges for the Award, Attorney Ntsako Msomi, Senior Legal Counsel at the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), an ex-law student of his.
In his acceptance speech McQuoid-Mason when thanking the organizers, mentioned that it was a particularly pleasing event because it was also the 50th Anniversary of when he founded the then University of Natal, Durban (now University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban) Campus Law Clinic, which led him to assist with the establishment of law clinics in over 60 countries in Africa and world-wide, and Street law programmes in over 45 countries. In addition, it was the 40th Anniversary of when he became Dean of Law at the University of Natal, that led him to Nelson Mandela, whose son was a law student, and participation in the United Democratic Front and Mass Democratic Movement during the Struggle years. He also paid tribute to the other former South African awardees of the Lifetime Achievement Awards, all of whom he knew personally and admired: Former Constitutional Court Justice Albie Sachs; Former National Chair of Lawyers for Human Rights Advocate George Bizos; Former Deputy Chief Justice Digang Moseneke; Former Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela, Former Chief Justice Moegeng Moegeng; and former Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron.
Shortly before Ceremony McQuoid-Mason spoke to one of his ex-students, Attorney Greg Nott, of Norton Rose Attorneys, who had acted pro bono for Castor Semenya for many years, and to whom McQuoid- Mason had provided an opinion on the Medico-legal aspects of Semenya’s partly successful appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
McQuoid-Mason said of the occasion, that there were four things that impressed him greatly: Firstly, it was encouraging to see how many entries there were from law firms and individuals from all over the African continent. Secondly, it was impressive how many so-called ‘White’ South African law firms, were empowering and promoting young Black African lawyers, and elevating some of them to very senior positions. Thirdly, he was pleased to learn that some of the South African law firms had branches in other parts of Africa. Finally, he was pleasantly surprised and humbled when about 20 of his ex-law students, many of whom were in very senior legal positions, came up to him afterwards to congratulate him on his Award.