If you have a passion for justice and ensuring everyone gets their just desserts, then a career in law might be the one for you.
A lawyer serves businesses, institutions, local authorities, governments and individuals with legal advice regarding rights and obligations. Fields include: business and corporate law, civil and criminal litigation, property transactions, taxation, estate planning, business and personal advice.
You will need to have take the following subjects at high school:
- First Language English
- Additional Languages
Below, you will find the institutions which are highly recommended for studies in law along with the required APS:
- Wits University – APS of 43+
- University of the Western Cape – APS of 37
- University of Cape Town – APS of 45
In order to qualify as a lawyer, you will need to complete the following training:
- a BCom Law/BA degree (3 or 4 years) plus a LLB degree (2 years) OR just a LLB degree (4 or 5 years). A Bcom Law/BA degree is not compulsory; this is simply an undergrate option that is offered at some instituions
- two years of articles with a South African firm of attorneys or community service at an accredited law clinic or approved office of the Legal Aid Board
- successful completion of the Attorneys Admission Examination
- a legal training course approved by the Law Society will have to be attended before application can be made for admission as an attorney
You will need to show:
- good communication and listening skills
- punctuality and reliability
- the capacity to work well in teams
- confidence to network and follow up with contacts
You will usually work in one of the following areas:
- national or provincial government, local councils and related organisations
- legal firms
- business firms
- legal aid societies
- self-employed: own practice or consultancy
Many lawyers work more than the average 40 hours per week, with extra time put in to do research and prepare/review documents. For lawyers who work at legal firms, they are able to accumulate billable hour which are the lawyer hours that the client pays for directly. The number of hours that a lawyer should bill varies depending on the practice area and expectations of the firm. In some large firms, lawyers are required to bill over 2000-2200 hours a year.
Depending on experience, a lawyer’s compensation ranges from a starting salary of R16 000 per month up to R50 000 per month or more. How much you earn also depends on which city you work in and your billable hours (in general, a third of a lawyer’s salary is made up of billables). In South Africa, Sandton City hosts the highest paid lawyers.
You can expect various levels of intensity in this field depending on where you work. However, in general, expect a competitive industry that requires hard work, dedication and a high level of commitment.