South African lawyers are the envy of many across the globe as the law profession is a lucrative and fast-growing job in the country. The prospects in the profession are unimaginable, especially in an age like ours where lawyers have been highly sought after. It may interest you to know that the profession is so transformed that it is made accessible to the public and also a representative of the diversity of South African society. Lawyers in South Africa are found across the country, offering services to both small firms and large corporations. Their importance is seen in almost all sectors of the country’s economy just as lawyer’s salary in South Africa also tells how significant they are.
You may be wondering how lucrative this profession is when compared to other fields. Before going further to consider venturing into the profession, you need to understand the peculiarity of the law profession in South Africa; what makes it unique above others; the professional qualifications required, and how highly rewarding the profession is in terms of the salaries being earned by lawyers in South Africa. These detailed explanations will give you a better understanding of the profession.
Why The Legal Profession Is Highly Sought After In South Africa
Acquiring a law degree puts you at a greater advantage over other linguistic graduates in South Africa. Your excellent command of English, your ability to quickly read with good comprehension, and great critical insight are enviable skills that may not be easy to acquire in other professions. In addition, lawyers are taught how to write logically, clearly, and coherently. One of the most interesting parts is that these skills are applicable in any context and you can use them in any legal service. More so, you’re privileged to travel abroad, with better opportunities.
As an LLB degree holder, you’re better equipped to analyze any sort of problem and proffer solutions. This gives you more relevance and prestige in society. You also gain an understanding of societal rules and aspirations in the public and commercial sectors.
Another very interesting aspect of the profession is that you have the option of becoming an attorney or an advocate as you grow your career over the years. This is just the least you can become because it’s a growing and dynamic profession. In practice, law graduates are highly sought after, likewise in government parastatals, and many private and public corporations. In the Department of Justice, they are employed as attorneys, magistrates, justice, and legal drafts. Also, those interested in international law are encouraged to join Foreign Affairs, or Trade and Industry. Lawyers are also involved in the National Parliament, municipal councils, and provincial legislatures. You can imagine the roles lawyers play in the government of South Africa. The list is endless.
You’re also privileged to work with NGOs and Public Interest Organizations. Law graduates in South Africa are offered the opportunity to work with organizations such as IDASA, NICRO, Lawyers for Human Rights, Women’s Legal center, etc. The exposures from these organizations are mind-blowing.
Requirements To Become a Qualified Lawyer in South Africa
As juicy as the profession might be, the offer doesn’t just come on a platter of gold. There’s so much to put into becoming a lawyer in South Africa. If you’re picking interest in the profession and may want to consider it someday, then you’ll need to pay close attention to what qualifications you’ll need to meet before you can be certified as a lawyer in South Africa.
LLB in South Africa is offered at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. At the undergraduate level, you’re expected to complete four years of studies. After which you proceed to postgraduate level offering a three-year program. Some South Africa Universities offer BA and BCom. degrees in Law, giving graduates the chance to undertake a two-year postgraduate program instead of three.
Graduates who have completed the LLB degree are qualified to apply for membership of the bar or law association, that’s after completing some professional exams before you can be eligible to join the association.
South Africa has two main branches of legal practitioners; Attorney and Advocate. As a graduate of LLB, you automatically become admitted as an attorney. You then serve as an attorney candidate with a practicing attorney for a specified period of time, depending on your qualification as a graduate (majorly two years in a proper legal degree must be acquired). As an attorney, you’re expected to write a ‘board exam’ set by the relevant Provincial Law Society to better qualify you as a Notaries, Conveyancers, etc. Also, attorneys go for further training in tax through postgraduate diplomas or LLM programs. More so, you’re required to register at the provincial law society in order to practice.
Advocates in South Africa are like barristers/solicitors in other Commonwealth countries. If you’d rather prefer to be an advocate, then you’re required to join a Bar Association and become a member by undergoing a training in pupilage with a practicing member of the Bar and sitting for an admission examination.
One good thing about being a lawyer is that once you acquire your degree and bagged the necessary qualifications and license, you can work in several organizations as a legal representative.
Lawyer’s Salary in South Africa Range From R5000 to R3 Million
Some people wonder why lawyers in South Africa are well paid. It may interest you to know that these lawyers handle very delicate and sensitive issues and as such, they expect to receive worthy payment for their troubles. They deserve even more than they’re getting at the moment. Also, various lawyers in South Africa are paid differently based on their area of specialization and years of experience. Below is a detailed list of different areas of specialization and expected remuneration.
There are two major types of lawyers in South Africa; the Attorney and Advocate.
An Attorney’s Salary in South Africa
In South Africa, the attorney does not appear in court. He is the person you first approach when seeking legal advice. They seek to protect the interest of their clients as best as they can before handing them over to the advocate lawyer. Attorneys majorly form companies and work in partnership with other lawyers. They draw up legal documents like wills, contracts, and transfer properties.
A lawyer who started practicing as an attorney and is just being absorbed in the profession gets a salary that ranges from as low as R5000 monthly to as high as R25, 000 monthly, depending on the firm you work with. If you partner with a successful law firm and have much experience, you can earn R100, 000 monthly. Summarily, the minimum amount an attorney can earn yearly in South Africa is about R12, 000 on a conservative estimate while for others, it can also be as much as R1.2 million annually.
The Attorneys are the highest-paid lawyers in South Africa with some getting a take-home of R3 million annually. Some of the common types of Attorneys in South Africa include;
Perhaps you suffered harm as a result of a surgical error, misdiagnosis, wrong medical treatment, or lack of proper medical attention, leaving you devastated and not knowing where to turn to. The Medical Lawyers in South Africa are well equipped to handle all your concerns. They’re also medical doctors but in the law profession and understand how best to serve you.
As a result of how indispensable they are, families and hospitals reward them handsomely. Thus, a medical lawyer’s salary in South Africa is also one of the highest.
They provide in-house legal advice, ensuring that a company’s policy is in line with the law. They draft contracts, draft transactions, and more. They also advise on securities laws and are well compensated for the things they do.
Tax lawyers are saddled with the responsibility of handling tax issues. They work for both individuals and companies. Many companies employ them to litigate matters regarding tax, or they outsource the job. Tax lawyers are high earners, not just in South Africa alone but worldwide because of the nature and risk involved in their job.
When charged with a crime, criminal lawyers are there to help you get bail, conduct an in-depth investigation, review charges against you and seek out witnesses in your favor. As experienced attorneys, they can also seek to lower charges against you.
If you desire to relocate and need documents to travel to other countries, immigration lawyers are experts in that. They help South Africans and foreigners obtain travel documents. And are highly paid to do their job.
Personal Injury Attorney Salary
Personal injury attorneys as the name implies can help you claim compensations for damage or injuries you may have incurred. They can advise, compile and submit a claim on your behalf, and negotiate in court in most cases.
For legal issues involving family relationships such as marriage, divorce, adoption, child custody, and support, family lawyers are mostly involved.
Intellectual Property Lawyer
There are times you may need to protect some aspects of your business such as copyright, registered designs, trademarks, and patents. Intellectual property lawyers are well equipped to help you achieve it.
Estate Planning Attorney
Estate planning lawyers help individuals deal with their will. They help you draw your will in line with your wishes. They earn an average compensation of R464,698 per annum.
They offer advice to business, corporate and commercial firms on how to structure a business and assist them with setting up a business.
A labor attorney offers advice and legal services to both employees and employers; which include drafting of employment contract and code of conduct, representing clients in labor court, etc.
Advocates Salary in South Africa
They usually practice alone and as such do not enter into partnerships. They’re mostly seen in courts, arguing and defending cases.
Most advocates, after one year of training, are assigned the title of a junior advocate. As a junior advocate, it’s best to market yourself, gain clients and build a reputation. This helps increase your daily earnings. But some top advocates in South Africa charge R45 000 daily, based on their years of experience and the reputation they built over time.
How Much Difference Do Years of Experience Make in The Salary of a Lawyer?
It’s well understood that many years of experience is tantamount to compensation. This means that the more experienced you are in your field of expertise, the more you earn. This is the same with most Lawyers in South Africa. Lawyers are compensated based on their wealth of experience.
Based on experience, lawyers in South Africa are being paid around R20 400, and R244 803 per annum. Lawyers in the private practice of over 10 years earn up to R2 000 000 per annum.
- For an entry-level lawyer with less than one year of experience, the expected pay is R153, 753 based on 51 salaries.
- A lawyer with 1-4 years of experience earns an average of R202,735 based on 547 salaries.
- A mid-career lawyer of 5-9 years of experience earns an average of R313,792 based on 214 salaries.
- An experienced attorney/lawyer having 10-19 years of experience earns an average of R486,497 based on 119 salaries.
- 20 years experienced lawyer and higher earns R612,772.
Does the City Where a Lawyer Works Influence Their Salary?
The salaries of lawyers in different cities and regions in SA vary. Here is a list of the average salary of lawyers based on the cities where they practice.
- Lawyers in Port Elizabeth earn 57,400 ZAR
- Lawyers in Cape Town earn 68,100 ZAR
- Durban Lawyers earn 65,900 ZAR
- Johannesburg Lawyers earn 64,200 ZAR
- Lawyers in Bloemfontein earn 57,400 ZAR
- Lawyers in Pretoria earn 63,800 ZAR
No doubt the law profession is a lucrative and admirable one as the lawyer’s salary in South Africa we have looked at above clarified. It offers you a lot you can leverage; either as an attorney, an advocate or you can use the knowledge you gained from the law school in developing your own business. However, if you need to make a transition, be rest assured that your legal background and expertise will contribute immensely to your success in your new career.