What is the difference between an attorney and an advocate in South Africa

Attorneys and advocates share the same qualifications (at least an LLB degree). The difference exists in the type of work done on a daily basis.

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Differences between an attorney and an advocate in South Africa

In South Africa, there are distinct differences between attorneys and advocates, both in terms of their qualifications and their roles in the legal profession. Here are some of the main differences between attorneys and advocates in South Africa:

Qualifications:

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  • Attorneys: To become an attorney in South Africa, you must complete an LLB degree from a recognized university and complete a two-year period of practical training known as articles of clerkship. You must also pass the Attorneys’ Admission Examination before being admitted as an attorney.
  • Advocates: To become an advocate in South Africa, you must first complete an LLB degree and serve a one-year pupillage under a senior advocate. After completing pupillage, you must pass the National Bar Examination to be admitted to the bar as an advocate.

Roles:

  • Attorneys: Attorneys are legal professionals who provide legal advice and represent clients in legal matters. They may specialize in a particular area of law, such as family law, commercial law, or criminal law. Attorneys typically work in law firms, but may also work in-house for corporations or government agencies.
  • Advocates: Advocates are legal professionals who represent clients in court, including arguing cases before judges and magistrates. They are often called upon to provide expert legal opinion and specialize in a particular area of law, such as labor law, tax law, or constitutional law. Advocates typically work independently, and are often briefed by attorneys to provide expert legal opinion or representation in court.
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South African Examples

  • Attorneys: Examples of attorneys in South Africa include law firms such as Webber Wentzel, Bowman Gilfillan, and Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, as well as in-house legal departments at companies such as Sasol, MTN, and Standard Bank.
  • Advocates: Examples of advocates in South Africa include Dali Mpofu, who has represented clients in high-profile cases such as the Marikana Commission of Inquiry and the Oscar Pistorius trial, and Thuli Madonsela, who served as the Public Protector of South Africa from 2009 to 2016 before returning to private practice as an advocate.

Read: What Subjects are Needed to Become a Lawyer in Grade 10

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