How Long Does It Take to Become a Corporate Lawyer in South Africa?

Is becoming a corporate lawyer a long and complicated journey? Becoming a corporate lawyer in South Africa is a prestigious and intellectually rewarding career path. These legal professionals play a crucial role in advising businesses on various aspects of corporate law, from mergers and acquisitions to regulatory compliance. However, the journey to becoming a corporate lawyer in South Africa is a rigorous and time-consuming process. Below, we break down the timeline and important milestones in this career path.

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How Long Does It Take to Become a Corporate Lawyer in South Africa: The Duration

Becoming a corporate lawyer in South Africa typically takes around 7 to 8 years. This timeline includes completing a four-year Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree, a 6-month to one-year period of practical legal training, two sets of professional examinations, and a two-year Articles of Clerkship. After these steps, you can apply for admission as an attorney in the High Court, and subsequently specialise in corporate law, which may involve additional time for further studies like a Master of Laws (LLM).

NB: View All Law Courses From Universities Here

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Educational Requirements

Undergraduate Degree

The journey to becoming a corporate lawyer begins with obtaining an undergraduate degree. Typically, a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) is a four-year degree programme that is required for anyone aspiring to be a lawyer in South Africa.

Practical Legal Training

After obtaining an LLB degree, the next step is to complete a period of practical legal training, which can range from 6 months to a year. This provides hands-on experience and prepares you for the legal practice environment.

Professional Examinations

Before practising as a corporate lawyer, you will need to pass two sets of professional examinations, generally referred to as Admission Exams. These tests assess your knowledge of the law and prepare you for the responsibilities you’ll handle as a corporate lawyer.

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Articles of Clerkship

You are also required to complete a two-year period called Articles of Clerkship, where you work under the supervision of a qualified attorney. This experience offers an opportunity to gain practical skills and real-world exposure.

Admission as an Attorney

Once you have passed the professional exams and completed your Articles of Clerkship, you can then apply to the High Court for admission as an attorney. Only after admission can you specialise in corporate law.

Specialisation and Further Studies

Many corporate lawyers opt to further their education by pursuing a Master of Laws (LLM) with a focus on corporate law. While this is not mandatory, it provides a competitive edge and a deeper understanding of the field.

Timeline Summary

  • Bachelor of Laws (LLB): 4 years
  • Practical Legal Training: 6 months to 1 year
  • Professional Examinations: Varies
  • Articles of Clerkship: 2 years
  • Admission and Specialisation: Variable

Conclusion

So, how long does it take to become a corporate lawyer in South Africa? A conservative estimate would put the timeline at around 7 to 8 years, starting from your undergraduate studies up to admission as an attorney. Specialisation and further studies can add additional time to this journey. If you’re passionate about the corporate world and the legal challenges it offers, then a career as a corporate lawyer might be just what you’re looking for.

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