How to become a legal practitionerThe fact that a person has a law degree does not automatically make that person a legal practitioner.
You first have to obtain either a B Proc or LLB degree at a University (which is approved and published in terms of the Legal Practitioners Act). Study permits are required for studies at universities outside of Namibia.
Once you have successfully obtained your legal degree, you have the choice to become a legal practitioner or to seek employment where admission as a legal practitioner is not required.
In order to qualify and be admitted as a legal practitioner you are required to complete a year of practical legal training with an established law firm (or an institution approved by the Board of Legal Education) and complete a course at the Justice Training Centre after which you will be required to pass further examinations.
During this year you will be taught to apply the concepts which you learnt at university.
Upon obtaining the necessary certificates issued by the Justice Training Centre you can apply to the Court to be admitted as a legal practitioner.
Upon admission as a legal practitioner you will automatically become a member of the Law Society of Namibia.
At this stage the legal practitioner must make a career choice, if he/she has not yet done that.
Law is such a wide field that there will be an area of interest for almost every different personality.
There are different employment opportunities in the legal sector to mention a few:
- Practising as an attorney (as a sole proprietor, partner, director or professional assistant);
- Practising as an advocate;
- Employment in the Ministry of Justice at either the Offices of the Prosecutor General, Legal Aid, Legal Drafters, Attorney-General, Government Attorneys, etc.;
- Employment at the Legal Assistance Centre;
- Employment at institutions such as Banks, Insurance Companies, NGOs, and other Ministries as a legal advisor;
- Employment at either the Justice Training Centre, UNAM Law Faculty or Polytechnic as lecturer;
- Office of the Ombudsman;
- Researcher; and
- Labour Consultant.
The work of a practising legal practitioner will entail some of the following:
Appearance in the Supreme, High and Lower Courts and Tribunals;
- Presenting evidence, making submissions on behalf of clients, representing parties in criminal trials, civil actions, etc;
- Advisory work;
- Property transactions;
- Commercial work;
- Drafting of wills;
- Administering estates;
- Advising on tax;
- Legal opinions;
- Registering of companies; and
- Drafting of contracts.
Legal practitioners use titles such as attorneys, advocates, lawyers, legal advisors, etc to identify themselves according their employment choice.
A legal practitioner is a highly trained specialist who will give advice on the best course of action that a client / institution / employer can take in matters relating to the law.
Legal practitioners work professionally and independently to look after the interests of their clients / employers.
Legal practitioners are Officers of the Court and take an oath to uphold the law. Legal practitioners should at all times act with the highest integrity en decorum.
Is the law for you?
The study of law involves a bit more than logic. It involves the studying of Acts of Parliament, textbooks and cases decided in the past to see how the law has been interpreted and applied to specific situations.
The law is dynamic and changes all the time. In order to keep up with these changes a student has to study the basic elements of the law — this is what you study at university.
You do not only need a high academic standard but you should also have the following skills:
- Communication skills: speaking, writing, explaining, understanding and listening
- Personal qualities: sincerity, patience, confidence, organisational skills, reliability, hardworking, integrity
- Academic skills: interpreting, good memory, numeracy, analysing
At the end of the day, the first step you should take is to do as well as possible in your Grade 12 examinations.
Remember that there are no shortcuts to success. Obtaining your degree and being admitted as a legal practitioner will open employment doors for you.
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