Article by listed attorney: Fawzia Khan
On 23 September 2015, our law firm was privileged to be invited to participate in the UNISA College of Law (Durban) Career’s Day. I and a few other attorneys were asked to deliver a talk to the senior Unisa law students about life as a candidate attorney. The career day was to expose the law students, (many of whom have had no prior practical experience or knowledge), to what it’s like to work in a law firm and hopefully bridge the gap between the academic work and the practical training they would receive before being admitted as fully-fledged attorneys. The key objective being to ensure that students are able to effectively transition from law graduates into capable and competent attorneys and advocates who can hold their own in their chosen law career.
All law graduates who want to be admitted as attorneys are required to join a law firm as a candidate attorney where they receive practical law training for a defined period of time, usually between 1-2 years. A candidate attorney is required to enter into a contract with an admitted attorney who has been in legal practice in excess of 6 years as his or her principal. During this term of articles, the principal is required to act as a mentor and facilitate the transfer of skills to the candidate attorney and cultivate the knowledge which the student would need in order to run a law firm. The candidate attorney would be expected to learn how to properly consult with a client, how to take proper instructions, know what solutions and options are available to the client, what the proper court etiquette is in the different courts, how to run a trial, and receive general training on the running of a law firm.
The School of Legal Practice which is part of the Law Society of South Africa, runs a six month post law degree programme where law graduates are taught by law practitioners about the practical aspects of being an attorney or advocate. Students wanting to be admitted as attorneys and who attend these programs can then join a law firm and serve articles for a period of one year. Those who don’t attend this Legal Practice School will be required to serve articles for two years. Once the candidates fulfill their term of articles, they are required to write their attorneys admission examination. Thereafter they can be admitted as attorneys.
The UNISA Career Day was very well attended and the students were keen to learn as much as they could about what their professional working life would be like, once they graduated with their requisite law degrees. The students asked some insightful questions and the day itself was heralded as a success. The students were also advised on the dos and don’ts when applying for a job as a candidate attorney. Even though the talks was geared towards the law graduate, much of the information which my colleagues and I shared, could be applied to any graduate seeking to get a job in his or her chosen professional field or discipline. Some of the tips included the following: -
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