The biggest challenge facing the legal fraternity is ensuring that the poor are able to access justice, President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday.
"One critical factor, which is close to the heart of Chief Justice Mogoeng and former Chief Justice Ngcobo, is access to justice.
"We are all seized with the matter of how to make our courts more accessible to the poor. Simply put, how do we make it easy for people who live far from the cities or who cannot afford to pay for justice, to obtain justice," he told the annual general meeting of the Johannesburg Attorneys Association.
Zuma said the legal profession had provided the country with some of its greatest leaders.
"We need to also move with speed in repealing and substituting old-order legislation that still governs the legal profession in various parts of the country."
These laws included the Bophuthatswana Admission of Advocates Act, the Transkei Admission of Advocates Act, the Venda Admission of Advocates Act, the Bophuthatswana Attorneys Act, the RSA Attorneys Act of 1979 and Admission of Advocates Act of 1964.
Government had introduced a discussion document on the transformation of the judicial system and its role in a developmental South African state.
Zuma said government had introduced other Bills aimed at transforming the judicial and legal systems such as the Constitution 17th Amendment Bill and the Superior Courts Bill.
The two Bills seek to establish a judicial system suited to the requirements of the Constitution, he said.
Zuma said the Bills had taken a long time and "it was prudent that their passage to date has been lengthy and even controversial".
He urged the legal profession to start promoting diversity.
From the statistics gathered from the General Council of the Bar, of the total 2384 members of the Bar, 1733 were white - which constituted about 72.6 percent, Zuma said.
Female practitioners were 561 of the total number, which translated to 23.5 percent.
In the attorneys' profession, out of the total number of 21 007 attorneys, 13 643 were white, which constituted 64.9 percent.
There were 7142 females, who constituted 33.9 percent.
"These statistics are ... a reflection of the shortage of the black and women candidates who make themselves available for judicial office."