Due to various reasons and factors, many people desire to become a lawyer in South Africa. Actually, lawyers are people of admiration, as the profession is both lucrative and dignified. In this article, we will explore how to become a lawyer in South Africa, including the necessary steps and requirements.
There are actually tons of positive reasons to be a lawyer. Actually, we should start by getting you enlightened that lawyers in South Africa are called attorneys and advocates (unlike some other countries).
Additionally, it will take you up to seven years to become an attorney in South Africa (plus one more year to become an advocate). If you are a foreign-trained lawyer that desired practising in South Africa, you could be in the category that will avoid repeating LLBs at the country’s law school ( a South African qualification is actually necessary).
Having introduced you to very important things you must know about the Law profession in SA, we can now proceed to stages you must tread to become a legal attorney or advocate in South Africa.
How To Become A Lawyer In South Africa
1. Getting An Education In The University
There are tons of universities in South Africa that are offering Law as a course. The good thing is that many South African institutions are of good standing, and you can be confident about getting a good education. So, if you want to become an attorney in South Africa, the first step is to complete your LLB.
The good thing is that, while, in some other countries, it takes 5 years to complete the course, you will get to spend only four years in South Africa. We should also note that unless you have already completed an LLB from another University in an approved country (such as Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho, including any of former Ciskei, Venda, Transkei, and Bophuthatswana states), you must attend a South African University.
So, what happens if you did not attend a University in any of the above countries (that is, you studied law from a different country that is not on the list of those approved by the law school)? Well, there may still be hope. Simply move towards any of the law schools in South Africa. They would assess the law degree you’ve got as credit towards a South African one.
2. Articles of Clerkship
After four years, when you are done studying at the university (and you now have your LLB with you), it is now time to apply for a position of service under articles of clerkship (which is another step, the second, that can’t be skipped).
This is actually a training period. It is usually conducted in an approved law firm in South Africa, and you should be set to spend up to two years there. However, some individuals can spend just a year in this stage if they complete the full-time course at the School for Legal Practice for a length of 6 months.
Actually, as far as the School for Legal Practice is concerned, you can choose to attend either on a part-time basis or full-time. The thing is, if you should opt for the part-time thing, you will use around five months only. Nevertheless, if you should settle for the full-time one, you will spend up to six months. Both options have an advantage, for the part-time option, you have the liberty of being flexible. For the other, you can use just a year in this stage instead of two full years.
Generally, while still in this stage, at the law firm, you will be attached to a supervisor (also known as a principal) to guide you. Nevertheless, ensure your articles are being submitted on time to the local law society.
3. Fit & Proper
Here is the next stage – where you have to prove your worth (that, indeed, you can serve as an attorney).
Here, you are to showcase moral integrity as well as your honesty in all you do (including in your work). You will undergo an interview during the application process to the Law Society. This will be conducted by a senior member (and you have to be pretty prepared).
Now, here is advice. While doing your articles, try to do all you can to ensure you keep in touch with colleagues from law school. By so doing, you can always ensure you are being given enough important work, and constantly check against being taken advantage of.
4. Attorney’s Admission Examination
Having finished up to six months of your articles of clerkship, then you can proceed to the Attorney’s Admission Examination.
To explain this better, you should understand that this is made up of four parts, which are:
– Practice and Procedure
– Wills and Estates
– Attorneys’ Practice, Contracts, and Rules of Conduct
– Legal Bookkeeping
It should also be added that some lessons (which are not official) are available from some lecturers (of law). When recommended one, and you discovered you are not pretty strong in a part, don’t hesitate to engage the lecturer.
5. Mandatory Practice Management
Getting to this point means hard work no doubt. To practice the profession legally in South Africa, you must be set to do a short course on Practice Management. This is what will actually ensure you get your first Fidelity Fund Certificate.
6. Becoming an Advocate
For anyone that desires to become an advocate, the laid down step is to simply apply to the High Court after a year’s pupillage under another experienced advocate.
When this is done, the person will proceed to being called to Bar. You should realise that the General Council of the Bar is the association of every local Bar Council in the country that is operating the individual Bar Examinations.
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With all these in place, you can be welcomed to the league advocates in South Africa.
So, while it may look pretty stressful and lengthy, you simply have to start from somewhere and keep taking appropriate steps one after the other on becoming an advocate in South Africa.