The Demeaning SA Attorneys Oath!

So here it is: the long awaited ATTORNEYS OATH – that is known by very few attorneys in South Africa, despite the fact we all had to swear to this when we were admitted.



I,  do swear/affirm that I will truly and honestly demean myself in the practice of


according to the best of my knowledge and ability, and further, that I will be faithful to the Republic of South Africa


The deponent acknowledges that she knows and understands the contents of the declaration.       




 Ek sweer/bevestig dat ek my eerlik en opreg in die praktyk van


na my beste wete en vermoë sal gedra en verder dat ek trou sal wees aan die  Republiek van Suid-Afrika

Die verklaarder erken dat sy vertroud is met die inhoud van die verklaring en dit begryp.

I think the Afrikaans version is better. With regards to the English, well I think we have a problem here.   While the dictionary definition of “demean” shows:                                             



tr.v. de·meanedde·mean·ingde·means

To conduct or behave (oneself) in a particular manner: demeaned themselves well in class.
The issue is that 99% of English speakers understand “demean” by its more common usage:


to lower in dignity, honor, or standing; debase:  eg He demeaned himself by accepting the bribe. (synonyms: degrade, disgrace)

Language is a powerful tool. We use it to shape our understanding of our world. If, every time an attorney is sworn in, he commits to truly demeaning himself…Well, enough said.

It’s time for a new oath.

Feel free to comment.   

If you are an attorney and you believe it is time for us to create a new, voluntary oath, along the lines of the initiative by MBA students, please read the information below and get in touch.         

The MBA Oath is a voluntary student-led pledge that asks graduating MBAs to commit towards the creation of value “responsibly and ethically.” As of January 2010, the initiative is driven by a coalition of MBA students, graduates and advisors, including nearly 2,000 student and alumni signers from over 500 MBA programs around the world.[1] By formalizing a written oath and creating forums for individuals to personally commit to an ethical standard, the initiative hopes to accomplish three goals:

  1. to make a difference in the lives of the individual students who take the oath,
  2. to challenge other classmates to work towards a higher professional standard, whether they sign the oath or not, and
  3. to create a public conversation in the press about professionalizing and improving management.[2]

MBA Oath (short version)

As a manager, my purpose is to serve the greater good by bringing people and resources together to create value that no single individual can create alone. Therefore I will seek a course that enhances the value my enterprise can create for society over the long term. I recognize my decisions can have far-reaching consequences that affect the well-being of individuals inside and outside my enterprise, today and in the future. As I reconcile the interests of different constituencies, I will face choices that are not easy for me and others.

Therefore I promise:

  • I will act with utmost integrity and pursue my work in an ethical manner.
  • I will safeguard the interests of my shareholders, co-workers, customers and the society in which we operate.
  • I will manage my enterprise in good faith, guarding against decisions and behavior that advance my own narrow ambitions but harm the enterprise and the societies it serves.
  • I will understand and uphold, both in letter and in spirit, the laws and contracts governing my own conduct and that of my enterprise.
  • I will take responsibility for my actions, and I will represent the performance and risks of my enterprise accurately and honestly.
  • I will develop both myself and other managers under my supervision so that the profession continues to grow and contribute to the well-being of society.
  • I will strive to create sustainable economic, social, and environmental prosperity worldwide.
  • I will be accountable to my peers and they will be accountable to me for living by this oath.

This oath I make freely, and upon my honor.



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