The practise of law as we know it is evolving. As a future lawyer, not only will you be drafting, negotiating, litigating, reviewing contracts and other agreements associated with the activities of businesses but, more importantly, you will be expected to have an in-depth understanding of your clients' business, their history, their strategic direction, the industries and markets they work in, and the needs for which they seek legal solutions.
The journey to becoming a lawyer, by either pursuing the attorneys' or advocates' profession, is both a challenging and rewarding one. If you want to become a lawyer, not only do you have to be prepared for the academic hurdles of obtaining a law degree and passing your bar or admission exams, you also need to consider the changing role of traditional lawyers in an increasingly automated world.
"There's always room at the top," the senior partners in their spacious corner offices always say. Only challenge is to find your way to that room in a saturated legal market with fierce competition. But, like any other "Lord of the Rings"-like journey, your legal career will also start by putting one foot in front of the other. If you pack the following traits for this journey, the door of the room at the top may soon open wide:
In the final year of your legal studies, you will hear many phrases continuously being used. One of these goes something along the lines of this: "Being a lawyer is a profession. It is not a job." What this means, according to Van Wyk, Roodt and Le Roux (Professional Ethics: Only Study Guide for LJU413J 2009 University of South Africa: Pretoria) is that a lawyer must be personally invested in what they do on a daily basis. A lawyer must see practising the law as a calling. They must take pride in what they do because their conduct reflects on the entire profession. To be a lawyer, especially a labour lawyer, you need to display a passion for the branch of the law you have chosen so that you can do the professional proud.
Just as the South African legal industry seems to be making some headway in understanding and adapting to the needs of Generation Y (those born between 1984 and 2004), another generation is entering university and will be taking the workplace by storm in just a few years' time. Considering that many large law firms are already recruiting for their 2020 CA intake, understanding Generation Z (those born after 1995 – although there is some debate as to which birth year marks the start of this generation) is certainly not an item that can be moved to tomorrow's agenda.
Towards the end of any student's scholastic career, the time immemorial question around the ideal career choice becomes the focal point of most individual and collective debates and deliberations, sometimes even resulting in heated discussions over the dinner table. This dilemma is something to which all parents and students alike are able to attest.
Now, more than ever before, life is moving at an increasingly rapid pace and the world is becoming smaller. Information is right at our fingertips and you can find out what you need to know, when you need to know it, at the mere click of a mouse. As the world revolutionises, so too does the profession of an attorney. After all, with an estimated 18 480 000 South Africans (a number which is expected to soar to over 25 000 000 in the next five years) carrying with them in their back pocket a device that is nothing short of a computer, it is hard to imagine that any profession, and the way in which its professionals store, share and consume information, would remain stagnant.
Practising as an attorney in today's technologically charged climate is different from practising in the "good old days". Students need to be able to adapt and work as efficiently as possible, using every ounce of technology that is available to them.
According to a national survey of law firms and legal professionals by LexisNexis and the Law Society of South Africa, around 92% of respondents believe that improved use of technology is a priority for the growth of their businesses.
Air BnB and other similar sites are short-term rental services intended for individuals renting out their homes to travellers and tourists. Websites like Air BnB can be accessed from anywhere in the world, and from any smart device. Accommodation for all budgets can be found quickly, making it increasingly popular and a sought after service.
In the recently published Draft Taxation Laws Amendment Bill there is a proposal to repeal s10(1)(o)(ii) of the Income Tax Act (58 of 1962). This is the section that provides a tax exemption for South African tax residents earning foreign employment income.
SARS' Information Gathering Powers
Chapter 5 of the Tax Administration Act (28 of 2011) (the TAA) sets out the information gathering processes available to SARS. Section 46(1) of the TAA states, inter alia, that:
"SARS may, for the purposes of the administration of a tax Act in relation to a taxpayer, whether identified by name or otherwise objectively identifiable, require the taxpayer or another person to, within a reasonable period, submit relevant material (whether orally or in writing) that SARS requires.".
Who would have thought that a trial judge's tone and diction would become critical in an appeal? Or that football violence and official trial audiotapes would be connected? Let's take a look at a decision that brings all these elements together – and suggests that judges might like to get some practice listening to how they come across in court.