The profession deals with much more than representing criminals

Mabasa Sibanda is a candidate attorney at Leepan Beech Attorneys in Johannesburg. © Unknown.
Mabasa Sibanda is a candidate attorney at Leepan Beech Attorneys in Johannesburg. © Unknown.

Maryanne Maina

Maryanne Maina

The legal profession has evolved from being just about representing criminals or individuals seeking an amicable parting.

Today the profession includes supporting corporate governance and state decision making .

Mabasa Sibanda, a candidate attorney at Leepan Beech Attorneys in Johannesburg explains: "A candidate attorney is defined in the Attorneys Act 53 of 1979, as any person bound to serve under articles of clerkship, being a contract whereby a person serves as an attorney for a minimum of a two-year period. This 'trainee attorney' works under a principal, who must be a qualified attorney."

An attorney has the choice of specialising in various areas such as conveyance, notarial practice and litigation.

Litigation is further divided into criminal, civil, commercial.

Those interested in pursuing a legal career can also choose to become a legal secretary or a paralegal.

"It is a dynamic profession with daily challenges but the work ethic remains constant. Servitude and loyalty towards your principals are of great importance," says Sibanda.

The qualified attorney deals directly with the clients and the candidate attorney learns from the qualified attorney's dealings with clients.

After completing two years of articles a prospective attorney is expected to have accumulated a personal client portfolio.

In South Africa the bar system requiresa prospective attorney to choose either to become an advocate or an attorney.

Advocates are high-court specialists while attorneys deal with clients and instruct advocates.

There is a lot of potential for people to grow within the legal industry.

Sibanda says: "The legal industry has great growth capability because as the economy grows the industry grows.

"I have learnt to remember that this is a learning curve and I learn from my mistakes." he says

"It is important to maintain focus while you are being trained in this profession and to keep yourself academically abreast as well as practically abreast of law developments," adds Sibanda.