In the first part of this series the author introduced some of the legal services offered by lawyers but are little known. In the effort to continue the civic duty to inform the public of services of convenience, more uncommon legal services are developed in this article.
1. ADMINISTRATION OF DECEASED ESTATES
Death brings with it unenviable circumstances that usually tear up families as a result of greed and opportunism. When someone passes on and leaves behind wealth or assets of value, those items become the subject of determined interest especially when the person dies without a will. The administration of deceased estates is a legal process that requires a professional, neutral and humane approach to try and achieve a fair distribution of the assets of the deceased. The process also involves the recognition of valid claims against the deceased which should be considered by the appointed person to administer the estate. The level of impartiality required to discharge the mandate of administering a deceased estate will see it prudent that a professional attend to the task. Lawyers are suitable candidates for that process by virtue of the professional impartiality, knowledge of the law and their training to effectively manage divisive/divided families.
2. CHANGE OF NAME
Have you have wondered whether it was possible to change any portion of your name or you may have thought that you have no choice but to stick to the name on your birth certificate? The answer is that a name change is very much possible and lawyers, specifically those registered as Notary Publics are the only professionals who can carry out such process. The process of a change of name takes place through the preparation of a notarial deed of change of name prepared by the specially skilled lawyers. The proposed new name is also advertised in the public media for informing the public and calling for objections. You can change your name to any name you so desire, provided the name is not morally offensive, receives a valid objection from any member of the public and the intention to change your name is not meant to be deceitful and fraudulent in the pursuance of a criminal motive. Certain names given to us by parents and relatives result in low self-esteem, ridicule from peers, religious intolerance and all these may lead to mental health issues. In the exercise of the freedoms given to us by the constitution, the ability to change one's name is a recognized right which most people are not aware of and more importantly how one can go about it.
3. NOTARISATION OF DOCUMENTS
There are certain lawyers with the additional qualification of being a notary public. It must be noted that not all lawyers are notary publics yet all notary publics have to be lawyers. This additional qualification relates to the special skill associated with legal procedures of authentication, generally. The most common scenarios when authentication becomes necessary include: (a) when copies of a document are to be used in a foreign country (b) when the court wants to accept an affidavit prepared outside the country (c) when there is a strict requirement in visa applications that any declarations be made before a notary public.
Lobbying is a unique negotiating term that refers to a situation where an individual or organization lobby's or advocates for a certain outcome. This usually happens when such outcome is not sought as a matter of right or the enforcement of strict obligations. For instance lawyers can lobby to a government department for the creation of policies and/or regulations that deal with a particular aspect of social well-being which was not previously recognized. Lawyers are good for lobbying based on their good drafting skills, articulate advocacy and knowledge of the law.
5. CLASS ACTIONS/PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION
Did you know that it is possible to assert your rights in the High Court of Zimbabwe as a community group or a grouping of individuals that belong to a certain class? The Class Actions Act [Chapter 8:17] provides for the opportunity for a group of individuals with the same problems or at least similar problems to approach the court for relief. Class actions are an important tool to achieve the fundamental right of access to justice as they relieve the pressure of individually raising legal fees whilst being conveniently couched for the court not to undertake a laborious exercise of determining a voluminous record as the community will have one appointed representative. Equally, lawyers by the exclusive right to represent individuals in court can assist with public interest litigation which include challenging "bad" laws inconsistent with the Constitution or parent legislation and administrative conduct of public officials that is not sanctioned by any law.
Lawyers are an essential component of the social fabric. They help to avoid legal inconvenience and to uphold lawful conduct particularly accountability from public officers. It is therefore important to know what functions they can discharge, so that they are effectively utilized.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.