Vivienne Lawack was born and bred in Clarkson, a Moravian mission station, in the Tsitsikamma. She attended Gelvandale Senior Secondary School and became the head girl in 1989.
Vivienne obtained the B. Juris degree cum laude at the then University of Port Elizabeth (UPE), South Africa, in April 1993. In April 1995 she obtained the LLB degree cum laude at UPE and the LLM degree, entitled Electronic Payment Systems in South African Law in April 1997, also at UPE. The Doctor of Laws (LLD) degree was awarded to Vivienne by the University of South Africa (UNISA) on 16 May 2001. Her doctoral thesis is entitled Aspects of Internet Payment Instruments.
As a student she received numerous academic awards, most notably as best law student in 1991-1994 and the Ford Premier Award for best undergraduate student at UPE in 1992.
Vivienne was admitted as an advocate of the High Court of South Africa on 7 December 1995. She lectured at Vista University in 1995 and thereafter at the then UPE from 1996-2002. Vivienne lectured inter alia, on Payment Instruments, Information Technology Law, Company Law, and Commercial Law. Whilst lecturing she published articles in accredited law journals, has read conference papers on Electronic Banking Law, Banking Law and Information Technology Law and conducted a number of seminars on electronic payment instruments, issues pertaining to the National Payment System and consumer law.
She joined the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) in July 2002 until the end of 2006 where she held the positions of Senior Payment System Analyst in the National Payment System Department of the Bank, Senior Legal Consultant and Manager: Financial Safety Net. She was a member of the drafting team on the National Payment System Amendment Act and participated in the road show and panel before the parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Finance. She also received a Head of Department and Governor’s Team Award for her legal work on the Continuous Linked Settlement project in 2004. In addition, the SARB recognised Vivienne as part of its leadership talent pool, which led to her inclusion on the SARB/Manchester Business School Leadership Development Programme in 2004-2005. After leaving the SARB at the end of 2006, the SARB appointed Vivienne for a further three years as a member of the Standing Committee for the Review of the National Payment System Act, which enabled her continued involvement with the drafting and review of National Payment System legislation. She is still an ad hoc consultant with the SARB to date.
In January 2007 Vivienne was appointed as Senior Legal Counsel by Strate Limited, South Africa’s central securities depository, a position she held until June 2008. As Senior Legal Counsel she was responsible, interalia, for the drafting, negotiation and vetting of contracts, compliance and regulatory legal work and all legal issues pertaining to settlement services between Strate, the JSE Ltd and Bond Exchange of South Africa (BESA). Whilst in the private sector, Vivienne was appointed by UNISA as a Research Associate (from 2002 until 2007), which enabled her to continue with her research on the National Payment System, banking and IT-law related issues.
Vivienne was appointed as the Executive Dean: Faculty of Law at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University as of 1 July 2008 until 31 March 2015. In this capacity she chaired and participated in 21 committees, strategically leading the Faculty of Law to greater heights. As, an engaged person, she served at various levels, including the President of the South African Law Deans Association (2010-2015), member of the Small Claims Court Advisory Board (PE Region), chairperson of the School for Legal Practice (PE), member of the National Task Team on the LLB curriculum, a member of the South African Judicial Education Institute Council and independent chair of the Trentyre Empowerment Trust (until December 2015) and a board member of AVBOB Mutual Assurance Society (until December 2017).
Vivienne was appointed as Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic at the University of the Western Cape as of 1 April 2015. In this capacity she is responsible for the academic project at the university, with all seven Faculties and five Directorates reporting to her, including Academic Planning, Teaching and Learning, Centre for Innovative Educational Communication Technologies (E-learning), Information Communication Services and Community Engagement.
Besides her role as Deputy Vice-Chancellor and former dean, Vivienne remained an avid researcher and has published 28 articles in accredited law journals, 3 contributions in books, 3 published conference proceedings, 3 technical reports and delivered 21 conference papers, both locally and internationally. In the past 8 years she has successfully supervised the following student research: 2 LLD theses, 4 LLM dissertations and 2 LLB treatises. She currently supervises 3 LLD students. At present, Vivienne is also a member of the editorial panel of the South African Mercantile Law Journal and on the editorial board of The Annual Survey of South African Law.
On the academic engagement front, she is the external examiner for 2 LLM Banking Law modules at Unisa and external examiner of LLM dissertations, treatises and LLD theses for UCT, UJ, Wits, Unisa and NWU. She is at present the chair of the Cape Higher Education Consortium (CHEC) Board, a research associate at the Nelson Mandela University Unit for Internationalisation, and trustee of the Moravian Church Trust.