Do's and don'ts... 10 Simple Rules... Guidelines to securing articles... You've seen these headings and read the articles before. You'll likely see and read similar ones again. All articles filled with relevant information that, if you follow their prescribed formula, will increase the likelihood of you successfully launching your career in law. And they're right. But still, even more questions may come. "What does the career you want look like? How do you know that's the 'right' career path for you? Is this what you really want?" The source of these answers, and to a myriad of other questions, is in: YOU.
If you are reading this, it is probably because you have taken the plunge and decided to study law. Whatever your motivation to do so, you are probably well on your way to attaining an LLB degree. The issue that looms in most law students' minds is what they will do after graduation, and whether practising as an attorney is the best course for them.
Today marks the beginning of my ninth month as a candidate attorney at Allen & Overy South Africa LLP. The most appropriate way to describe a day in my life as a candidate attorney would be "UNPREDICTABLE". Every day presents you with a new challenge. No degree or vacation programme can prepare you for what life is actually like as a candidate attorney.
Othelia Langner– Head of Legal and Compliance (Southern Africa) – Medtronic Africa (Pty) Ltd – an international medical devices company.
Life is all about the choices we make and the roads we take. When it comes to work, our dream job may not be what we anticipated. This is all part of the adventure.
I was a practising attorney for about 10 years when I got a call from one of my clients, an international bank, offering me the position of legal adviser in the Corporate Section. At that stage I was a junior partner in a prestigious law firm and whilst it was not Zane, Spectre and Litt, I was happy, I felt validated. I'd built up a number of loyal clients who helped me achieve my fee targets. So why then, did I even contemplate leaving practice, to become a mere number amongst 18 000 staff in an international bank? Was it the allure of being part of the deal making process, to negotiate huge international deals, to get global exposure and to get the opportunity to learn more about the business world? Or was I naïve? Against all odds, I accepted the offer and without any hesitation. I definitely was very naïve as none of the glamour materialised within the first three years.
In-house legal positions have always been, and continue to be, attractive to those in the legal profession seeking to strike a healthy work-life balance. However, this is but one of the areas of appeal, and working in-house has become an increasingly popular avenue for legal professionals. The lower earning potential of legal advisers and the salary gap between practising attorneys and in-house counsel are no longer deterrent when considering a role as in-house counsel – in-house salaries are now comparable to and, sometimes, higher than those of their practice counterparts with the same PQE. Further, companies are now seeking to cut costs where possible, so the external legal spend of many companies has been reduced and more legal work is being done by in-house counsel. In the past, legal advisers dealt mainly with basic legal matters and were primarily conduits to law firms where the more complex matters were dealt with. In-house legal professionals are now involved in cutting-edge legal work. The trend to keep the bulk of the legal work in-house is also due to the necessity for companies to involve legal advisers who understand the intricacies of their business and risk tolerances through the life cycle of a matter. The drawback has been that legal departments, often operating in highly regulated industries, have become smaller but their workloads have increased.
Technology can be defined as "the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry". We have already entered a stage where legal knowledge (both substantive and procedural) and increasingly lower-cost and effective technology are being combined. We can thank the Fourth Industrial Revolution for this. Legal technology has developed as a result of, amongst others, increased investment and access to artificial intelligence (AI). AI presents itself in many forms in the legal sector, a common example is the application of machine learning. This, combined with traditional legal knowledge, has led to the development of state-of-the-art legal technology and legal applications.
"Change is the only constant," they say. Soon you will exchange the comforts and predictability of student life for the roller-coaster ride that is legal articles. It is within the walls of your new "home away from home" that you will appreciate the truth behind this saying.
As I read through the submissions made for without prejudice's "So you want to be a lawyer" feature every year, I am always struck about how it is not my story. The articles tend to discuss various options – but they leave out one. I could call it the road less travelled, but I suspect it is the road MORE travelled.
Two Oregon lawyers sue over mandatory Bar dues
Two Oregon lawyers have filed a suit alleging that compulsory Bar dues infringed their First Amendment Rights because it helps pay for political and ideological speech they disagree with. They have no objection to a licensing fee but do want to be excused from paying for membership of the Bar which speaks on their behalf. They objected to an article published in the Bar's bulletin criticising white nationalism and the president for catering to white nationalists. After a backlash it provided a $1.12 refund – the estimated cost of printing the bulletin – to every member who requested the refund. The two lawyers' claim is based on a June decision of the Supreme Court that public employees cannot be compelled to pay union dues if they opt out of union membership. - Jason Tashea September 4
When a judge says that a case would make the heart of Hitler bleed, you have to sit up and take notice. What was the story? What could have happened that would awaken the feelings in a monster? A word of caution however, the answer is not what you might think.