Zak Yacoob (BA, LLB) has been a lawyer at the then Natal Bar, as junior counsel until 1991and senior counsel until 31 January 1998.
During his years of practice as both junior and senior counsel, he ran a significant and diverse commercial and general legal practice in addition to which he was engaged in community activities, defended political prisoners charged under unjust apartheid laws, did cases to help victims of detention, house arrest, and other restrictive orders.
In 1981 he became a member of the executive of the Natal Indian Congress, in which capacity he organised and took part in protests, produced and distributed publicity material and organised and addressed many anti-apartheid mass meetings.
As a member of the executive of the Durban Detainees’ Support Committee, He was involved in helping to ameliorate the conditions under which detainees were held and in organising workshops, meetings and conferences to expose the evils of detention without trial. Was involved in Community organizations and issues that affected ordinary people not just use of the law.
He belonged to the Democratic Lawyers Association from 1979 to 1984, was a member of the United Democratic Front's Natal executive and was committed to the fight against apartheid both as a member of the Natal Indian Congress and as a member of the underground of the ANC until the first Democratic election in 1994.
He was involved in the negotiation process and contributed to the finalisation of the Bill of Rights. He was a member of the IEC, responsible for S. Africa's first democratic election in 1994 and subsequently a member of the Independent Panel of Experts that advised the Constitutional Assembly in finalising the Constitution.
Since 1998 until January 2013 Zak was a Justice on the Constitutional Court of South Africa. He is well known in national and international legal circles for his contribution to the socio-economic rights jurisprudence of our country and has attended many international conferences on human and socio-economic rights and on topics as varied as blindness, children, and democracy.
Yacoob has 2 honorary doctorates in law and received the 2013 Felicia and Sydney Kentridge Award for Service to the Law in Southern Africa.
He has taught at law schools around the world and is visiting the professor in WITS and UKZN law faculties and the Howard Law School Summer programme run in collaboration with and at UWC.
He is involved in various voluntary activities since his retirement such as; Judicial education; participating in the work of NADEL, the LRC and Equal Education; serving on boards of civil society and other organisations like Section 27 and Socio-Economic Rights Institute, (SERI) and CAPRISA, as well as working with the Kwa-Zulu Natal Blind and Deaf Society as its President.
From February 2013 until October 2016 he chaired the South African National AIDS Council Trust