PUPILLAGE AT THE JOHANNESBURG SOCIETY OF ADVOCATES IN 2020
This page explains what pupillage at the Johannesburg Society Advocates (“JSA”) is, how to become a pupil at the JSA, and what will be expected of you once you are accepted to do pupillage at the JSA. We deal with this under the heading “What is Pupillage?”
It also explains how to gain admission as a legal practitioner and enrolment as an advocate. Completion of pupillage at the JSA does not automatically mean you are entitled to enrolment as an advocate. The Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014 treats different categories of pupil differently. What you have to do to be enrolled as an advocate depends on, amongst other things, when you completed your law degree and whether you previously practiced as an attorney. Exactly how all of this works is explained under the heading “Admission and enrolment as an advocate”.
This page also explains how to apply to become a pupil at the JSA. This is dealt with under the heading “How to become a pupil at the JSA”.
Finally, some additional information about pupillage and practice are provided, under the headings “During Pupillage” and “Beginning practice”.
Please read through this page and all the documents linked to it, before deciding whether to apply to become a pupil.
WHAT IS PUPILLAGE?
Pupillage with the JSA is a one-year period of full-time training that leads to admission to full membership of the JSA.
The training involves –
- A series of lectures and written exercises that leads to nationally organised examinations. This component of the training provides you with the basic knowledge of legal procedure and ethics you will need to start out as an advocate. It also provides you with the basic legal writing skills you will need to draft court documents, and other documents advocates need to be able to write, such as opinions, memoranda and advices on evidence.
- Advocacy Training. This is a specialised course of practical training on how to conduct yourself in court, how to lead and cross-examine witnesses, how to make oral submissions to Judges at first instance in a trial or motion, and to Judges hearing appeals. Each of these different kinds of oral advocacy is a skill in itself, and the first step to practicing that skill effectively is to be put through the specialised training programme the JSA provides.
- Participation in the real-life practice of your pupil mentor and other advocates already in practice at the JSA. Each pupil has a mentor. The mentor is an advocate in full time practice at the JSA. A pupil assists his or her mentor, and, with the permission of his or her mentor, other practicing advocates by, for example, drafting legal documents, discussing litigation strategy, attending and participating in consultations with attorneys and clients, and, of course, going to court. Your mentor may also in due course allow you to stand up in court and make submissions under his or her supervision (provided you are admitted/enrolled as an advocate). All of this is essential to understanding what it is like to be an advocate.
- Community Service. The Legal Practice Act requires all candidate legal practitioners (including pupils) to do community service. The Minister of Justice has not yet made the Regulations necessary to give content to this requirement, but the JSA will require its pupils to do some form of community service during pupillage before they can be admitted as full members. Community service will likely involve giving legal advice to members of the public who cannot generally afford to pay for legal representation. You will do this under the supervision of a full member of the JSA, or a person or entity who the JSA has agreed can provide community service opportunities to pupils.
Being a pupil at the JSA accordingly requires you to be well-organised and able to acquire and practice a wide range of different skills. There will often be fairly high volumes of work to be completed in a relatively short period of time. Before applying for pupillage, you should carefully consider whether you will be able to perform the volume of work and develop the kinds of skills that will be required of you. If you a confident that you can meet the challenges of pupillage, and – even better – that you find the prospect of pupillage exciting, then we would like to receive your application.
More detail is provided below under the heading “During pupillage”.
ADMISSION AND ENROLMENT AS AN ADVOCATE
During pupillage, you will be expected to ensure that you are admitted as a legal practitioner and enrolled as an advocate as soon as you are eligible to do so. Pupillage does not automatically lead to admission and enrolment as an advocate, but you will not be able to become a full member of the JSA unless you are admitted and enrolled as an advocate.
Because of recent changes in the law, the procedure you have to follow to become admitted and enrolled as an advocate depends on your status at the point when you commence pupillage. There are at least four categories of pupil.
- Pupils who are already admitted under the Admission of Advocates Act 74 of 1964 (Admission of Advocates Act)
Some applicants for pupillage will already have been admitted as advocates under the (now repealed) Admission of Advocates Act. These applicants are deemed to be admitted as legal practitioners and enrolled as advocates in terms of section 114 of the Legal Practice Act. They need take no further steps to gain admission. Once they complete all the requirements of pupillage, they will be admitted to the JSA.
- Pupils who qualified, in principle, to be admitted in terms of the Admission of Advocates Act as at 31 October 2018
These applicants are entitled to be admitted as advocates in terms of sections 24 and 115 of the Legal Practice Act, read with section 3 of the Admission of Advocates Act.
As a general rule, if, on 31 October 2018, you met all of the requirements to become an advocate set out in section 3 of the Admission of Advocates Act, then you can apply to the High Court to be admitted and enrolled as an advocate as if the Admission of Advocates Act were still in force.
The requirements for admission under section 3 of the Admission of Advocates Act are set out in this document Admission as an advocate – requirements.
The Admission of Advocates Act can be found here Admission of Advocates Act
- Pupils who are attorneys
Applicants who were attorneys on 31 October 2018 do not qualify to be admitted as advocates in terms of the transitional provisions of the Legal Practice Act. Attorneys must, instead, apply to the Legal Practice Council to convert their enrolment to that of an advocate in terms of section 32 of the Legal Practice Act, read with Rule 30 of the South African Legal Practice Council Rules. The requirements for such an application are set out in Rule 30 of the Legal Practice Council Rules. The JSA’s pupillage programme is structured so as to enable these pupils to comply with the advanced advocacy requirements for conversion.
The Legal Practice Council Rules can be found here Legal Practice Rules
- Pupils who did not meet the requirements of section 3 of the Admission of Advocates Act on 31 October 2018, and who are not attorneys
These applicants will have to comply with all of the operative requirements of sections 24, 26 and 29 of the Legal Practice Act. They will have to sign and lodge a practical vocational training contract with the Legal Practice Council. They will only be able to apply for admission and enrolment as an advocate at the end of pupillage – i.e. once the 12-month period stipulated in their contract has expired – and once they can demonstrate that they have met all of the other requirements set out in the Legal Practice Act.
Once they are admitted as advocates, and provided that they have met all of the requirements for admission to the JSA, they will be admitted to the JSA as well. The JSA’s pupillage programme is structured so as to enable these pupils to comply with all the requirements of the Legal Practice Act.
The JSA will, at the end of pupillage, support the admission and enrolment of all pupils who have met all of the requirements of pupillage, and who are otherwise fit and proper to be admitted to the JSA.
Copies of the Legal Practice Act, the Legal Practice Council Rules, and the decision of the Gauteng High Court in Ex Parte Goosen 2019 (3) SA 489 (GJ), which dealt with the impact of the Legal Practice Act on the admission and enrolment of advocates, can be found here:
A number of aspects regarding the training of pupils in terms of the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2018 (LPA) are not yet finalised. The JSA is working with the Legal Practice Council (LPC) to ensure that these issues are finalised as soon as possible.
The structure and content of the Pupillage Programme of the JSA may be modified / amended without notice to ensure compliance with rules and directives from the LPC regarding pupillage in terms of the LPA and conversion from attorney to advocate in terms of the LPA.
HOW TO BECOME A PUPIL AT THE JSA
Applications for Pupillage 2020 are now closed; as at 13 September 2019 16h30.
Applications for 2021 will be on the website during the course of next year; date to be announced in 2020.
NOTE: The provision of a police clearance certificate is no longer a requirement, and you need not apply for a certificate or include it with your application.
All pupils will be required to give a written undertaking that they intend to begin practising as a member of the JSA upon the successful completion of pupillage. Should you not intend to commence practice immediately upon successful pupillage, you are required to indicate this in the application form and provide a written explanation of the reason you cannot immediately begin practise as a member of the JSA.
Applicants are not guaranteed a place. The JSA cannot necessarily accommodate the number of people who apply for any given year as pupils. Should you not be selected for 2020, you will have to apply anew for 2021.
Applicants are required to be interviewed by a selection panel. This will probably take place in late September / early October 2019. Interviews are held in Sandton. You will be advised of the date, time and venue for your interview on relatively short notice.
Once your acceptance for pupillage has been confirmed, you will be notified of the date in which pupillage commences. This date is normally the third Monday of January. On the day that you commence pupillage it is important for you to present yourself at the administrative offices of the Bar Council on the Ground floor, SALA House, 2 Protea Place/12 Fredman Drive, Sandown to sign the pupillage register, to pay your registration fee, and to obtain a copy of the pupillage material files as well as the Red Book containing the Constitution and the ethical rules which govern the conduct of members of the Society.
It is appreciated by the Bar Council that some new pupils find the financial burden of being without a steady income for the period of pupillage very onerous. Bursaries are granted to pupils in deserving cases, having regard to the particular circumstances and needs of the pupil in question. An application for a bursary may be addressed to the Bursary Committee of the Bar Council and Mrs Maria Ferreira of the Bar Council will assist interested persons with the necessary application forms and the arrangement of an interview with members of the Bursary Committee.
As a pupil member at the Johannesburg Bar you will be introduced to a number of practises, conventions, courtesies and procedures with which it is important that you quickly become familiar. In this regard your pupil mentor will guide you. In addition, the various members of the Bar Council who discharge particular duties in regard to professional matters, pupillage matters, housing of new members, the charging of fees, and so on, are available to you at all reasonable hours in regard to any enquiries which you might have.
You will be furnished with a memorandum setting out the curricula and related information concerning your pupillage. It is important that you study the documentation carefully and adhere to the requirements which are set out therein.
Each pupil is required to keep a written up-to-date diary of his/her activities and work performed during pupillage. This diary should contain meaningful entries in regard to when, where and what work was done, and whether it was performed with your pupil mentor or with some other member of the Bar. In particular, where you have performed actively some role in the preparation or the conduct in the matter, this fact should be recorded. From time to time pupils will be invited to meet with members of the Pupillage Committee to discuss details of the work which they have done and the experience which they are getting in the course of their pupillage.
From the commencement of your pupillage you are immediately entitled to the full use of the Bar Libraries situated in Pitje Group, Fabcos House, in the CBD and in The Chambers in Sandton. You ought as soon as possible to introduce yourself to the librarians. The librarians will show you around the libraries and will indicate to you what is available for your use. As many pupils do not possess full libraries of their own, it is in your own interests important for you to become familiar with the layout and content of both libraries so that it may be used by you when you begin practice quickly and efficiently. As you will from time to time require assistance from the librarians, it is also in your own interests to get to know them and to establish a rapport with them.
An important matter which will require your attention when you commence practice, is access to legal resources. Nowadays many resources are available electronically, but much of that is by subscription. It is necessary for you to make prudent decisions regarding building up your own library of electronic resources and physical books. It is advisable to become familiar with what textbooks and other resources exist on the various legal subjects, and to become familiar with the most recent editions available in respect of textbooks, before you commit to buying them or subscribing to electronic resources.
We do not use “Mr” or “Mrs” or any other titles in addressing each other as colleagues. The custom is to address one another by surname or first name without regard to seniority. It is a tradition of the Bar that new members should make themselves known to existing members by calling at their chambers and introducing themselves. As the Bar has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, the amount of time and effort which this involves has become considerable. As a result, this rule of courtesy is nowadays limited to making it obligatory for new members to introduce themselves to every Silk at the Bar, to every member of the group in which they are serving pupillage, and to each member of the Bar Council. A list of the current office bearers can be obtained from the administrative offices. It is in your own interests to avoid anonymity whilst at the Bar and the importance of observing this tradition cannot be overstated. In addition to the introductions referred to above, you are encouraged to make an effort to introduce yourself to all members of the Bar, not least of all your peers in the junior ranks of the Bar, with whom you are likely in your early years to have more to do and from whom you are likely to learn a great deal.
You will find it most beneficial to systematically digest the experiences that you have during pupillage, and systematically prepare for your examination, by sharing this task with other pupils in a study group. You are encouraged to form study groups in small numbers of at least three and at the most five members. It is also an advantage to form a group with individuals who have a different background to yours, and different experiences, so that each can benefit from the different perspectives which members of the study group can bring to bear.
An important advantage which you can gain for yourself during pupillage is to build up a set of precedents, that is to say examples of well-drawn pleadings, affidavits, opinions, advices on evidence, notices of motion, petitions, heads of argument, etc. You should actively seek to do so. It is advisable to regard nothing as so simple or elementary that it would not be worth taking a sample precedent of it, including something so simple as a notice of set down. Store these in a systematic manner after a fashion that suits your way of thinking, and it will be of great assistance to you for some time.
It should always be remembered that the only benefit that can be obtained from the period of pupillage is the body of knowledge which you have at the end of it. It will also be a golden period in your career at the Bar, a time during which you are not expected to know anything, and therefore cannot be embarrassed by asking questions. You are encouraged to question, to seek confirmation and to persist in doing so until you are quite satisfied that you fully understand any matter of concern to you. The more you ask during pupillage, the less anxiety you will experience when you commence practice.
It is important not to spend your pupillage as a spectator. You must work and experience what goes into producing pleadings, opinions, advices, etc. You will find out more about what you do not know by attempting the job yourself than by watching it done well by someone else. When you know what you are ignorant of, you will know what you need to learn.
During the course of the work which you will be requested to perform alongside your pupil mentor or another member of the Bar, opportunities will arise to stand up and speak in Court. You are encouraged to take every possible advantage of these opportunities. An important objective of pupillage is to introduce new members not only to the art of Court craft, but to put them at ease when practicing it. Any reticence which you might have about speaking in public, or addressing a Judge, or in articulating unfamiliar thoughts, can be overcome by taking every opportunity to address the Court.
You should remember that one of the objectives of pupillage is to assist you to form a systematic approach to the practice of law. Every practitioner has his own approach and you should from the earliest time, begin to consciously think about developing your own approach. A very important aspect of efficient legal practice is the ability to organise and access information quickly and efficiently. You should have a full understanding of this requirement and develop clear thinking to suit your own style in regard to how it is to be done.
Throughout the period of your pupillage you are free to contact any member of the Pupillage Committee to discuss any matter of concern to yourself. The members of the Pupillage Committee will expect you to call on them from time to time and you are encouraged to make full use of the opportunity to discuss your pupillage with them.
Immediately after having been informed of successfully passing the Bar Examination, it will be necessary for you as soon as possible to take up approved chambers. From time to time vacancies in groups are advertised on the notice boards of the various groups at the Bar. It has become customary to furnish the group to whom such an application is made with some form of curriculum vitae. You should, however, appreciate fully that personal acquaintance with the members of a group weighs more importantly with most members of the Bar than a lengthy curriculum vitae from a virtual stranger.
Your relationship with your pupil mentor does not end at the end of your pupillage and it is traditional that an intimate collegial relationship continues for many years thereafter. Notwithstanding having successfully passed through pupillage, you will doubtless come upon many questions to which you may be uncertain of answers, and it is the convention that you may approach your mentor or any other member of the Bar with whom you are acquainted for assistance with difficulties. You should, however, bear in mind that it is not considered good form to approach either your pupil mentor or another member of the Bar with a problem before having made some earnest effort to solve the problem yourself and at least to have some ideas upon how the problem should be solved.
As you will now be in a position to start charging fees for the work you have done, it is important that you have a proper understanding of how to charge a proper fee. If you are in doubt as to how to approach the matter of charging a proper fee, you are encouraged to approach any one or more of the members of the Fees Committee for guidance in this regard.
From time to time you may be faced with uncertainty as to how to conduct yourself in a particular situation. Should you need guidance in regard to whether or not conduct which you are contemplating is considered as ethical or professional, the members of the Professional Committee are available to you for guidance in this regard.
The Johannesburg Bar is a collegial society which welcomes and encourages participation. You are encouraged to make use of the facilities of the Bar and to make yourself at home and to be comfortable with colleagues. You will find that the more you participate in the affairs of the Bar and contribute to its well-being, the more rewarding the membership of the Bar will be to you.
|Admission of Advocates Act|
|Ex Parte Goosen|
|Legal Practice Act|
|Legal Practice Rules|
|Precedent – Admission-as-an-advocate—requirements|
Legal Practice Council web site www.lpc.org.za/legal-practitioners