2019 Pupillage

Applications for 2019 are now closed as of 31 July 2018, 16h30.  

Further documentation below to please read through carefully:

Act 74 of 1964 admission as an advocate
Admission as an advocate – requirements
In order to be admitted as an advocate you require SA Citizenship
Pupillage guidelines


  1. 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. This introduction is made available to you in order to more easily help you find your way around.


  1. It is a necessary prerequisite to commencing pupillage at the Johannesburg Bar to complete in full the application form for pupillage. The omission of any relevant information from that application form will delay consideration of the application and so it should be filled in carefully and with some thought. The closing time for pupillage applications is 16:30 on the last working day of July in the year preceding the year of pupillage. A working day is a day other than Saturday, Sunday or public holiday.
  2. Occasionally applications for exemption from some of the ordinary requirements of pupillage are entertained by the Pupillage Committee of the Johannesburg Bar, subject to the concurrence of the National Bar Examination Board. Such exemptions are sparingly granted and it only is in very exceptional circumstances that it is prudent for you to consider not experiencing the full programme of pupillage.
  3. All pupils will be required to give a written undertaking that they intend to begin practising as a member of the Johannesburg Bar upon the successful completion of pupillage. Should you not intend beginning practise 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 at the Johannesburg Bar.


  1. Once your application for pupillage has been accepted and approved by the Pupillage Committee, you will be required to attend an interview with members of the Pupillage Committee. Ms Maria Ferreira will be contacting you with a date and time for the interview.

Your period of pupillage cannot commence and will not be recognised until such interview has taken place. Once the interview has occurred, and your 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.

  1. You will soon be furnished with a memorandum from the National Bar Examination Board, setting out the curricular 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Each pupil is required to keep a written up-to-date diary of his/her activities and work performed during the period of his pupillage. This diary should contain meaningful entries in regard to when, where and what work was done, whether or not 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.
  4. At the Johannesburg Bar a series of lectures is arranged on the subject matter that pupils will be examined on. It is in your own interest important that you attend as many of these lectures as is possible and where through force of circumstance you are unable to attend some of them, that you make an effort to obtain from fellow pupils’ notes in regard to that which you have missed. Attendance is compulsory and absences are tolerated only for good cause shown.
  5. 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. Diana Shield, the chief librarian will show you around the libraries and will indicate to you what is available for your use. As many pupils when they commence practice 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. One of the matters which will require your attention when you commence practice, is building up your own library, and it is important that during your pupillage you take the full opportunity of becoming familiar with what books exist on what subjects. It is advisable to become familiar with the editions in the libraries before deciding whether or not to buy them yourself. In this way by building up familiarity in advance if your purchase, you can ensure that your investments are well made.
  6. 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 a new member to introduce himself to every Silk at the Bar, to every member of the group in which he is 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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 and to obtain examples in both English and Afrikaans. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. As you will now be in a position to start charging fees for the work you have done, it is important that you study very carefully the document in regard to fees survey which can be obtained from the administrative offices of the Bar Council. The importance of a proper understanding of how to charge a proper fee cannot be understated. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Johannesburg Society of Advocates

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