In his recent fourth annual report about the South African wine industry, British wine writer and Master of Wine, Tim Atkin, indicated that the 2015 vintage is the best that he has tasted in 26 years of writing about the country's wines. This vintage, according to Atkin, should be "a springboard to global recognition". The report, which runs to almost 190 pages (available to download for £15 on www.timatkin.com), includes scores for over 1400 South African wines; more than 900 tasting notes; and his classification of the 150 best South African wineries.
I was not one of those people who grew up surrounded by lawyers. As far as I know, I am the first lawyer in the family. I do not attach any great significance to this fact but it does mean that when, in my matric year, I decided to study law I did so with a completely uncoloured view. After completing matric in 2005 I spent a year in Edinburgh travelling and studying towards a legal secretarial diploma.
I completed a BA LLB at the University of Cape Town, and served articles at Cox Yeats Attorneys where, now qualified, I am working as an associate. I thought I would reflect on my experiences, and those of others, to provide a brief word of advice to those of you who have taken the plunge and decided to embark on a career in law.
So you have settled into the life of having to decide what to wear every day to class versus just a school uniform; a life of managing free time and responsibility with no-one to check whether you do in fact get to class on Friday morning at 7:30. You have been asked the question "So, you want to be a lawyer?" by friends, family and lecturers a million times and have mastered the answer as to why, to avoid the response "You do realise it is not like it is on TV…". And this is true - a day in the life of an attorney is no Ally McBeal episode.
Law students are often under the impression that the skills required to "practise the law" are only learned through on-the-job training. However, certain skills can be developed, improved and achieved during your studies. For example, a soft-spoken person may be able to present confidently to an audience when addressing a topic about which they are passionate or feel strongly. Your interests and activities may, therefore, influence the skills you choose to develop.
Years have passed since the day you began this journey. As you set your pen down after your final paper you realise one journey has ended and another is about to begin. You picture the ideal working environment and perfect legal career. You believe you are adequately prepared to enter the working world and make a success of it.
A candidate attorney, leaving the comfort zone and routine of campus life and entering the corporate world for the first time requires a complete mind shift. CAs should be aware that much of what they have learnt at university does not necessarily prepare them for the corporate world. They must be willing to learn, work hard, and be open to criticism without taking it personally.
So goes the line which has been attributed to Socrates. Nearing the end of my first year of articles, I find this to be an apt summary of how I felt when I began my articles. Now, I at least know a little bit more about all the things I knew nothing when I started.
Six reasons why you should be an IP attorney
1. It is really interesting Intellectual property protects the products of the intellect which are capable of commercial exploitation. This includes patents, designs, trade marks, copyright and trade secrets (to name only the Big 5). As a result, you are largely dealing with original thoughts of your clients which you are charged with rendering into material form, thereby creating an "intellectual asset".
Atticus Fitch, Harvey Specter and even the legally blonde Elle Woods have led us to romanticise the legal profession. Although there is a good dose of great Suits and clever blondes, the reality is - it is absolutely nothing like the hit TV shows. But don't despair! While you won't make legal headlines every week, or solve constitutional issues in 40-minutes, you will have the opportunity to determine your career path in law and have the power to make it a fascinating and rewarding one.
I come from humble working class beginnings; I attended government schools in rural areas and furthering my education beyond matric was not a certainty. It was my father who decided, on the day my matric results were released, that I was going to study further. I was the first person in my extended family to attend university.
There is a "rule" at Gleason Publications – never assume. Of course the rule gets broken; usually to the detriment of the perpetrator. The theme, so to say, of this year's So you want to be a lawyer? feature was based on pretty well that – our assumption, as students, that things will fall into place as long as we study diligently and our marks reflect our intelligence and dedication. Unfortunately that couldn't be further from the truth. There are many (too many?) students studying law, there are "top students" aplenty and there simply aren't enough candidate attorney positions to accommodate everyone. What do students need to do to give themselves an above average chance of claiming that coveted CA spot? The articles this year will give you some good ideas and not all the things you should be looking at are associated with the law.