Requirements to Study Law in South Africa (Law Schools, FAQs) 202212 min read

South Africa is one of the top destinations to study law. Not only for law students but all graduates, the country offers a variety of opportunities.

Studying law in South Africa is incredible, and the fact that there are various institutions offering legal courses throughout the country, together with the criteria for studying law in South Africa, makes it simple to identify individuals who are suitable.

If you are considering studying law in South Africa, you have made a perfect choice. Additionally, this post will provide significant information about studying law in South Africa.

Where is South Africa?

If you must study in a foreign country, it is only ideal to know about that country. 

South Africa is a country located on the continent of Africa’s most southern tip. It is located near Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana and is bordered by the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

It is the world’s 25th largest country by area and is home to about 53 million people. South Africa is a multi-ethnic country with diverse languages and cultures.

There are about 11 different languages spoken here, including English and Afrikaans. There are numerous chances for students interested in studying law in this upper-middle-income economy.

Studying Law in South Africa:

Learning about the legal system of the country you will be studying law is where your studies start.

South Africa’s legal system is a synthesis of several styles. The civil law component is derived from the Dutch legal system. Common law is also prevalent here, and it is very similar to that found in the United Kingdom.

The country is generally governed by a criminal and civil law system supplemented by constitutional law. The country’s judicial system is comprised of Magistrates’ Courts, High Courts, Constitutional Courts, and a Supreme Court of Appeal.

To practice law in South Africa, one must have at least a bachelor’s degree in law. Individuals desiring to become Advocates or Attorneys in the country must hold an LL.B. degree as a minimum requirement.

While the program is also accessible as a post-graduate option, students can begin their studies at the undergraduate level.

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Legal Education in South Africa:

To practice law in South Africa, one must have a law degree. In South Africa, this is typically done as a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree in law might take five years to complete.

After earning a bachelor’s degree, students are not obliged but strongly encouraged to continue their education by pursuing a master’s degree in law. 

Besides master’s programs, there are also LL.D. and Ph.D. programs. Students in South Africa must study law to get a job in this sector.

Both theoretical and practical aspects of the legal system in the United States are covered during their training, allowing students to learn both theoretically and practically.

After completing specialized training, attorneys can also act as Notaries or Conveyancers. 

To become a member of the Bar Association, students must first pass the required licensing exam. Anyone who practices law in South Africa must be a member of the Bar Association. 

Most of the country’s universities are open to international students studying law. However, international students must apply for these programs directly to the institution, and they will only be approved if space is available within the programs.

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Availability is limited at several schools and universities in the country. After graduating, students can pursue a Ph.D. or other advanced degree in the same field of study. 

The number of law students who go on to practice as attorneys are on the rise.

People who pursue this field as a profession can go on to become university professors or work in law enforcement (after obtaining experience in the field). While pursuing a professional job in this industry, many students will also continue their education.

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Different Kinds of Law Degrees Offered in South Africa:

  • Law of persons
  • Criminal law
  • Education law
  • Constitutional law
  • Civil procedure
  • Environmental law environment
  • Common law
  • Labor law
  • Law of partnerships and trusts
  • Legal interpretation
  • Customary law
  • Criminal procedure
  • Law of agency
  • Contract law
  • Copyright law
  • Administrative law
  • Law of delict
  • Insolvency law
  • Law of succession
  • Property law
  • Family law
  • Company law
  • Patent law

South Africa’s Requirements for Studying Law:

To study law in South Africa, you must meet the following requirements:

Requirements for Education:

To become a lawyer in South Africa, you need to study hard. If you want to practice law in South Africa, you must first acquire a four-year bachelor’s degree. More so, an approved law school in South Africa is required for this degree.

Those with equivalent foreign degrees or those already admitted as an advocate in South Africa may be exempt from the LLB requirement. The LLB equivalent of your home country’s legal degree must be checked if you already have one.

After finishing a two-year LLB degree in South Africa, you can also complete all of the country’s legal criteria for becoming an attorney by first earning a Bachelor of Commerce with Law. This approach necessitates an extra year of education, but the end outcome is the same.

In South Africa, law students are obliged to study both general and specialized topics.

Moreover, a lawyer in South Africa needs to know about the foundations of South African law, the country’s privacy law, the Constitution of South Africa, and the country’s criminal law.

Some classes in law school are required, while others are electives that you can select based on your personal preferences.

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Experiential Learning:

Students in South Africa are required to work for a law firm before they can practice independently.

Before becoming admitted as an attorney in South Africa, prospective attorneys must work for a private law practice, the state attorney, or a legal aid agency.

Depending on where you went to school and your prior work experience, you may have to do this for one to five years.

Those with at least five years of relevant legal experience are excluded from this criterion. That includes working as a prosecutor or magistrate in a regional jurisdiction.

The Admissions Test for Attorneys:

To become an attorney in South Africa, you must also pass an admission exam for attorneys. Before you can practice law on your own, you must pass this examination.

This is an exam that checks for your understanding of legal practice and procedure, wills & estates, bookkeeping for attorneys, and rule of conduct for lawyers.

After six months of working in the real world or attending a practical legal training school, you can sit for the admission exam for attorneys.

Screening:

It’s vital to remember that you’ll be pass-through screening before you can join the bar association. A senior South African Law Society member must interview and screen an aspirant.

Last but not least, you must meet the following primary conditions before you can go on to the more complex ones:

  • You must be a citizen of South Africa or a legal resident to practice law in the country
  • If you want to practice law, you must be at least 21 years of age.
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10 best Law Universities in South Africa | 2022

University of Johannesburg:

The UJ Faculty of Law offers standard law degrees such as BA Law, BCom Law, and LLB, as well as LLM and LLD degrees in a variety of significant disciplines. It is one of the best law schools in South Africa.

Along with these degrees, the Faculty has a robust non-formal programs division that offers postgraduate diplomas, certificates, and short courses in specialized areas such as tax law, compliance, criminal justice, and forensic investigation, insolvency law, labor law, corporate law, and contract drafting.

The University of Johannesburg is one of South Africa’s newest universities, having been created in 2005 through a merger.

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University of Cape Town:

When looking for the best law schools in South Africa, the University of Cape Town (UCT) should be the first place to look. 

UCT is the oldest university in South Africa and one of the greatest law schools in the country, having been founded as the South African College.

There are only a few thousand students in this school’s legal department, but they are well-qualified lawyers who have been active in the process of ensuring a free, democratic continent.

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University of KwaZulu-Natal:

The University of KwaZulu-mission Natal is to maintain their commitment to contributing significantly to the growth of legal knowledge through teaching and research, by equipping graduates with the skills, knowledge, and values necessary to succeed in their professions and to serve as leaders and visionaries in broader society.

The School of Law is one of South Africa’s major contact law schools, with a significant emphasis on competence development throughout the LLB program – particularly in terms of technical, legal, and general skills.

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Rhodes University:

Rhodes University’s vision is to be a nationally and internationally renowned academic center known for its excellence in teaching and research, while also contributing to the development of the Eastern Cape and Southern Africa.

Rhodes University was founded in 1904 and is the province’s oldest institution. More so, it is one of the best law schools in South Africa.

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Stellenbosch University:

The Western Cape Province is home to Stellenbosch University, an institution with African roots but a global outlook.

In its more than 100 years of operation, the institution has received numerous local and international honors for its exceptional research and teaching.

It also possesses one of Africa’s largest legal libraries, which will be immensely helpful to the university’s diverse student body.

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University of Witwatersrand:

The University of Witwatersrand was established in 1896 and is one of South Africa’s most highly regarded institutions. Consequently, it is widely recognized as one of South Africa’s premier law schools.

The University of Wits, as it is commonly known, has produced four Nobel Prize winners, the most notable of whom is Nelson Mandela. Thus, it is ranked as one of the best nursing schools in South Africa.

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University of the Free State:

At the University of the Free State, the LLB degree prepares students for admission into the legal professions, for a variety of vocations that involve the use of the law, and for postgraduate studies in law.

The Faculty of Law in Bloemfontein provides a legal education that combines theory and practical experience in lower and upper court divisions.

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University of Pretoria:

The University of Pretoria (UP) is one of South Africa’s top law schools.

At UP, the ethos of great teaching pervades all fields of study. Our dedicated faculty members use a number of instructional strategies to ensure that students with a range of learning strengths thrive.

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Effective teaching enables students to excel and complete their degrees in the shortest amount of time possible.

Their degrees are both nationally and internationally accredited. They have agreements in place with the essential legal accrediting authorities worldwide, which ensures that your qualification will always be recognized when you have UP behind your name.

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North-West University:

North-West University is committed to operating as a unified, integrated, multi-campus institution that promotes equity, redress, and globally competitive teaching and research across all three of our campuses.

Their primary responsibilities, teaching-learning, and research are inextricably linked to community participation and innovation in our eight faculties, the majority of which serve both distance and contact students.

The NWU provides more than education; we provide people with a place in the world. Academically, students benefit from a high level of choice and freedom, which enables them to maximize their potential and begin job preparation.

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University of the Western Cape:

The UWC Law Faculty was founded in 1979 as an independent faculty and has a proud history of fighting apartheid and giving a good education in law.

Numerous former faculty and alumni have held and continue to hold positions of prominence in academia, the judiciary, parliament, the executive, the legal profession, and business.

The Faculty of Law is nationally recognized for its commitment to human rights and constitutionalism culture, as well as for its rigorous and relevant legal teaching. The university’s student body is one of the most varied in the country.

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Frequently Asked Questions on the Requirements to Study Law in South Africa:

What is formal law in South Africa?

The term “formal law” refers to the section of the law that governs the procedures that must be followed in legal actions.

What are the five sources of South African law?

Common law, legislation or statutes, judicial precedent (court decisions), indigenous law, custom, and legal academic writings.

What is the purpose of the law?

To achieve a variety of goals, the law serves this purpose. Order preservation, standard-setting, civil liberties defense, and conflict resolution are the four primary responsibilities of the executive branch of government

Is human rights law?

Human rights have made it into national binding law. Many countries are now enshrining international human rights principles in their constitutions and other laws. Human rights breaches at the national level may also be addressed through these mechanisms.

Conclusion:

South Africa is a well-known, prosperous, and enormous country. The country is home to several educational institutions and a diverse range of work prospects for graduates.

You’ve come to the right place if you’ve been looking for information about studying law in South Africa. Numerous pieces of information that prospective South African lawyers should be aware of have been supplied above.

The nature of the law course is remarkable in and of itself. Even in law school, you will be required to argue, debate, clarify situations, and render decisions. All of these activities are engrossing to observe and participate in.

Furthermore, what about once you graduate from high school? What perks do you receive? To begin, the training typically provides students with immediate and incredible work chances.

As a seasoned law graduate, you are unlikely to be impoverished, as your field of study is in high demand in practically every society. Additionally, as a lawyer, you earn status by studying and excelling in a professional course.

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