I've heard it said before that the two years of completing articles can be the most rewarding and enjoyable time in young attorney's career. I've also heard it said that the two years of articles are filled with late nights, stress and personal revelations about one's general direction in life. As a second year CA, I can comfortably say that both statements are true in equal measure. Happily, my experience has yielded many lessons, which I've distilled into six points that I wish I had known when starting out as a CA.
My name is Sarah Swart, and I completed my LLB at UKZN in 2007. Ten years later I find myself working as the Regional Legal Advisor for the International Committee of the Red Cross based in Pretoria. As Regional Legal Advisor I am responsible for supporting 13 African governments in the region in their adherence to, and implementation of International Humanitarian Law, also known as the law of war. My work requires me to travel extensively, to view law and policy as complementary, and, frequently, to act more as a diplomat than anything else!
Having freshly graduated from university with my LLB, like many other new graduates, I had very little idea of what the legal profession actually entailed. To be honest, I joined the attorneys' profession because I was eager to start earning an income and even the meagre salary of an article clerk was more appealing than doing a year of pupillage to qualify as an advocate (in which you do not receive an income at all).
It is twenty years since a newspaper column "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young" (Chicago Tribune 1 June 1997), opening with the seemingly plain, but poignant words "Wear Sunscreen", was first published and took the world by storm.
Bernice says, "I always wanted to study law.
When I was a little girl in pre-primary I would always answer law as my career choice when I grew up. I believe lawyers contribute towards making the world a little fairer. It is an idealistic notion, I know, but for the most part that's what I do every day.
Bongani says,"Growing up in Swaziland,I was always fascinated by seeing men and women on TV carrying heavy brief cases; wearing court gowns and that's when I thought, 'I also want to be an Attorney.'
"My main motivation to study law is an absolute love and passion for people. I believe knowledge is power and with skill and diligence one can truly make a difference. I never considered any other study field as a profession and was always a child with very powerful ambition and opinions.
Efrat says, "I have always known that I wanted to be a lawyer - ever since I was young. Perhaps it was, and remains, my idealistic notion that the law dispenses justice that made me want to pursue such a path. And today, even after studying law and being aware that it is not always the case, as well as being told by a lecturer that I will eventually get over it, I still strive to dedicate my life to using the law as a tool to empower others and to fight for justice.
"I wanted to choose a degree that would challenge me mentally, broaden my way of thinking and influence my outlook on life. Law ticked all those boxes. I was interested in our South African democratic paradigm and wished to be able to understand the social context which has developed the law to this point. I wanted to be equipped with the tools necessary to make some sort of change in the legal field by either setting precedents, representing clients in need or even contributing an academic article or two that could give influence. Law is a very rewarding degree as it gives you the opportunity to connect with people which I really enjoy.