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How To Become A Lawyer In South Africa

How to become a lawyer in South AfricaSo you want to know how to become a lawyer in South Africa?

Well, the first thing you need to know is that in South Africa lawyers are known as attorneys and advocates. It takes at least seven years to become an attorney and an additional year to become an advocate. Only some foreign-trained lawyers are able to avoid repeating their LLBs at a South African law school – as usually a South African qualification is necessary. 

Here are the stages you need to go through to practice as an attorney or advocate in South Africa.

How to become a lawyer in South AfricaEducation 

Everyone who wishes to become an attorney in South Africa must begin by completing their LLB, which can be no less than four years in length. They must attend an institution in South Africa unless they have already completed an LLB from an institution from an approved country. The designated countries approved in South Africa currently are Swaziland, Namibia, Lesotho and the former Bophuthatswana, Venda, Transkei, and Ciskei states. If you have an LLB from any other country, then you need to approach a South African law school for assessment of your law degree as credit towards a South African one. 

Articles of clerkship 

Once you have completed your recognised LLB, you can then apply for a position of service under articles of clerkship. This training period is conducted in a law firm and is generally two years in length. It can be shortened to one year if the student completes the full-time course at the School for Legal Practice for a period of approximately six months. Otherwise, this course is attended on a part-time basis for a shorter period of time of around five months. During this time a supervisor, known as a principal, at your law firm will guide you, but you must be sure that they submit your articles on time to the local law society. 

Fit and proper 

Next you must prove that you are a fit and proper person to serve as an attorney. This involves showing your moral integrity and honesty in everything you do, including your work. There is an interview during the application process to the Law Society by a senior member and this is when attention is placed on issues such as previous convictions. During your time doing your articles keep in contact with friends from law school to ensure you are not being taken advantage of or that you are being given enough complex work. 

Attorney's Admission Examination 

Once you have completed at least six months of your articles of clerkship, then you can take the Attorney's Admission Examination. This has four parts; Practice and Procedure, Wills and Estates, Attorneys’ Practice, Contracts and Rules of Conduct, and Legal Bookkeeping. There are unofficial lessons available from some law lecturers, and if you are recommended one and are feeling weak in an area of the exam, then taking the lessons from a reputable teacher is a great way to grow your confidence. 

Mandatory Practice Management 

As part of being an attorney in South Africa you must finally under go a short course on Practice Management to gain your first Fidelity Fund Certificate. 

Becoming an advocate 

If you wish to become an advocate in South Africa you must apply to the High Court after one year's pupillage under another advocate, after this you will then  be called to the Bar. The General Council of the Bar is the association of all the local Bar Councils in South Africa who operate the individual Bar Examinations. 


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