Advocates are primarily experts in the art of presenting and arguing cases in court. Whereas in the past, only advocates were permitted to present cases (appear) in the higher courts and in the Appeal Court in Bloemfontein, attorneys were granted right of appearance in the high and constitutional courts as from 1 November 1995. (Right of Appearance in Court Act 62 of 1995).
Advocates also give legal opinions and help with the drafting of legal documents that are required in every walk of life, be they commercial, industrial or domestic.
They perform two main functions, namely the handling of criminal and civil cases and giving legal advice.
Advocates may conduct civil and criminal cases in various courts of law by appearing either for a defendant or a plaintiff in a civil case, or for the State or an accused in a criminal case.
Civil action results when the private interest of two parties or persons causes a dispute but where the State and its laws have not directly been violated or affected. Examples are claims for damages, disputes over contracts, insurance claims, divorce cases etc. A criminal case is instigated by the State against someone who has allegedly violated or committed an offence against the law of the country.
Clients do not generally contact an advocate directly, but are referred by an attorney or lawyer. The advocate plays an important role by ensuring that all the evidence in favour of the client is placed before the magistrate or judge and by testing the version of the opposing party through cross-examination.
Advocates may specialize in different fields of the legal profession such as water rights, insurance claims, murder cases and libel actions. State advocates specialize in criminal law and in the same way as private practicing advocates, they appear in the Supreme Court, the Appeal Court and in lower courts, and also do a wide variety of chamber work.
- being a respected member of one's community
- the challenge and variety of the work
- working with people
- being able to have one's own practice
- the financial rewards of successful practice
- working long hours, evenings, and weekends
- preparing cases and talking to clients
- the years of study required before you can practise
- the competition and pressure in this field
An advocate should:
- have integrity;
- be honest;
- be able to inspire confidence;
- think quickly and analytically;
- be able to speak clearly and authoritatively.
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course
Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.
Compulsory Subjects: None
Recommended Subjects: Languages, History
Degree: The basic requirement is a 4 year LLB law degree from all major universities. Having achieved this, the next step is to apply to the High Court to be enrolled on the "roll" of advocates. To do this, a candidate must satisfy the court that he/she is both qualified and able to be a member of the profession. They will then be able to practise as an advocate in South Africa.
Once admitted, it is customary to join one of the "Bars" (the representative body of the advocates' profession with the main purpose of maintaining professional standards among its members). Before admission to the Bar, you will have to do a learnership (called pupilage) of four months and pass the National Bar Examination of the General Council of the Bar, which is a test of the applicant‘s practical ability.
- Private practice
- Businesses, companies and institutions (managers and directors)
- Legal advisers for government departments, businesses and companies
- Lecturers at colleges and universities
Law Society of SA
P O Box 36626
Menlo Park, 1020
Tel: (012) 366-8800 Fax: (012) 366-0969
Society of Advocates South Afrida
General Council of the Bar of SA
P O Box 786878
86 Maude Street
Tel. (011) 336-3976 Fax: (011) 784-0182
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