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Top-rated UKZN researcher and human rights activist Professor David McQuoid-Mason celebrates 50 years in academia

Advocating for social justice inspired by his meetings with Nelson Mandela; establishing one of the first university law clinics in South Africa; being an A-rated National Research Foundation 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 in 2021 during the celebration of his 50th anniversary in academia at UKZN.

Professor 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 worldwide, 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, Professor 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, present Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo and National Director of Public Prosecutions Advocate Shamila Batohi. During the apartheid struggle years, 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.

Professor 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 world-wide 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, Professor 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 – not even during a pandemic – Professor McQuoid-Mason is currently assisting two technical subcommittees of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19, as well as assisting the Gender and Human Rights Commissions and private lawyers on Olympic gold medallist, Caster Semenya’s appeal to the European Court on Human Rights. He is also assisting with reviewing the Ministry of Health’s proposed standards accreditation criteria for hospitals and general practitioners.

In addition, he advises nine private hospitals and a number of public hospital ethics committees, individual doctors, academic medical colleagues and other healthcare personnel on the legal and ethical implications of different aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Internationally, he is presently designing training programmes for health practitioners in Ghana and paralegals in Somalia.

In celebration of Professor 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 McQuoid-Mason’s biggest accolades 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, Professor Managay Reddi, expressed how proud McQuoid-Mason’s colleagues felt at having 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." Reddi said: "We look forward to celebrating with David the rare and wonderful milestone of 50 years at UKZN and wish him many more years in academia."

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