Becoming a lawyer is an large undertaking in terms of time commitment and financial investment. Therefore, it is important to learn deeply about the profession as possible before you choose on a career path as a lawyer.The South African law requires that a lawyer obtain a law degree, work several years and pass an admissions exam. You must also be at least 21-years-old and a citizen or legal resident of South Africa.
The minimum requirment to become a lawyer is to complete a four-year LLB degree. You also have an another option of completing a BCom degree before the LLB degree but this is not mandatory. The LLB degree usually takes four years to complete and the BCom plus LLB degrees took five years. If you obtain a law degree outside South Africa, you will have to contact the National Forum of Advocates (NFA) to confirm that your degree is recognised as equivalent to an LLB in South Africa.
In your second last year or as early as at the end of your second year of studies you will need to apply directly to law firms for work experience during the holidays. Most of the well-known law firms in South Africa offer work experience for a two to three week period.This will be a great opportunity to see how law firms work on a daily basis, find out more about the area you would like to work in and to make new contacts.
Articles of clerkship
After successful completion of your law degree, you have to work in a law firm as a candidate attorney under the guidance of a experienced practising attorney before you will be allowed to work as an attorney yourself. According to the Attorneys Act, a candidate attorney have to complete two years of his/her Articles of Clerkship while still attending law school as part-time. Alternatively, a candidate attorney can attend law school full-time for another year.There is an exemption to this requirement for those who have at least five years of relevant legal experience. That includes experience as a regional prosecutor or magistrate.
Attorney Admission Examination
Once you have successfully finished with articles of clerkship, then you can take the Attorney's Admission Examination. This has four parts;
i.Practice and Procedure
ii.Wills and Estates
iv.Contracts and Rules of Conduct
If you are wishing to become an advocate in South Africa you must apply to the High Court after one year's practice 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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