A person must be regarded as a fit and proper person by the Law Society and the High Court before he can be admitted as an attorney. This requirement refers mainly to the moral integrity of a person, his characteristics and particularly honesty, which is considered to be an important prerequisite for practising as an attorney.
The only academic qualification that is presently recognised for the purpose of
There are exceptions to this rule.
The second exception is if the applicant has completed a degree of the same status as the South African LLB degree at a university in a country designated by the Minister (currently being the former ‘TBVC’ states, Swaziland, Namibia and Zimbabwe), which degree has been certified by a university in South Africa and the person has completed a supplementary examination (if required).
The third exception is if the applicant has completed a degree, which does not meet the requirements of an LLB degree, at any university in South Africa, or,
The fifth exception is if the applicant has obtained a matric certificate with full university exemption. Please note that the abovementioned exceptions numbered three to five increase the term of the duration of service of articles of clerkship (see 3.2.4 below).
Attorneys’ Admission Examination
The attorneys’ admission examination, which is presented by the Law Society, must be successfully completed before admission. This examination is practice-orientated and can only be written:
A person has more than one opportunity during the period of articles or community service to write the admission examination, which is scheduled twice per year. A person may also attempt the exam within three years after the contract has expired.
The examination comprises the following sections:
- Paper 1: Practice and procedure (criminal procedure, supreme court procedure, magistrates’ court procedure and motor vehicle accident claims);
Service under Articles of Clerkship or Service Contract
There are various methods to obtain the practical qualification to be admitted as an attorney in South Africa. An applicant must complete at least:
Service under any of the above contracts must be completed on a full-time basis.
‘Appropriate legal experience’
Provision has also been made that a person can apply for exemption from service under a contract if he has completed a five-year period in an area of ‘appropriate experience’.
Compulsory practical legal training
A person must attend a practical legal training course, which is recognised by a law society in South Africa. This can be either a short course of approximately five weeks during or after the period of articles or community service, or attendance of a full-time course at a School for Legal Practice of approximately six months. The Law Society of South Africa’s Legal Education and Development department (LEAD) has the following branches of the School for Legal Practice:
Although statutory language requirements for qualification have been abolished, it is important to note that individual universities may:
The ability to communicate effectively is essential for all lawyers. Prospective lawyers should therefore make us of every opportunity to enhance their oral and written communication skills.
Screening of prospective candidate attorneys
A senior member of the Law Society will conduct a personal interview with a prospective candidate attorney before registration of a service contract or contract of articles by the Law Society, in order to determine whether a person can be regarded as a fit and proper person for entering the profession. Specific attention will be given to previous convictions.
Attorneys can also be appointed as judges to the High Court and the Constitutional Court.
Mandatory practice management
In terms of Sections 8 to 10 of the Judicial Matters Second Amendment Act 55 of 2003, a course in Practice Management has become mandatory for all attorneys who are to be issued with their first Fidelity Fund Certificates, subsequent to 14 August 2009.
Practice Management training courses
The Law Society of South Africa’s Legal Education and Development division (LEAD) provides training in practice management to comply with the above requirement. Click here for more information.