Types of Lawyers in South Africa

We bring to you the types of lawyers in South Africa, their basic functions, work scope and any other information relevant to the subject matter.

Law can become a fulfilling and exciting career, but also requires dedication and commitment.

Are you planning to pursue a career in law but have little or no knowledge on the type of lawyer you want to become? Then you are here at the right time.

Lawyers or attorneys apply the application of legal theories and knowledge to advance the interests of those who hire them to perform legal services.

A lawyer can work as a private advocate, in a state institution or with a private firm. Working in these jurisdictions come with different salaries and emoluments.

The basic requirement to becoming a lawyer is completing a four-year LLB degree. It is common to assume that lawyers can provide any legal service that may be required by individuals.

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However, law in South Africa is vast and has many branches of specialization.

This post will also include

  • Highest paid lawyers in SA
  • Salary of lawyers in South Africa
  • And many more

According to goalgal.co.za, there are basically two kinds of lawyers in South Africa which are the attorneys and advocates.

The difference between the two is that attorneys usually works in law firms whiles advocates are those that defend/argue matters in court. In summary attorneys mostly spend their time in the office whiles advocates spend a lot of time in court defending matters.


They have the right to appear in magistrate’s court but not in higher courts. Although senior attorneys might be able to appear in higher courts.

Functions of the attorney

  • Draw up legal documents such as wills, contracts,
  • Transferring properties
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Unlike attorneys, advocates spend most of their time in court. Advocates can appear in any court except small claim court and traditional courts.

They usually practice alone; thus, they cannot enter into partnerships like attorneys do.

types of lawyers
types of lawyers

Furthermore, clients do not directly present case to advocates. Attorneys rather bring cases to advocates.

Below are types of lawyers in SA

General Practice Lawyer

Criminal lawyer

They represent defendants facing criminal charges in court.

Family lawyer

Family lawyers represent clients in marital and divorce issues. They work on vast issues relating to the family including division of marital property after divorce or death.

Medical lawyer

Medical lawyers handle cases relating medical malpractices and medical lawsuits. They have an extensive and in-depth knowledge of the ethics that govern the medical field.

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Most medical lawyers have degree in the medicine or related fields.

Intellectual property lawyer

An intellectual property (IP) lawyer specializes in protecting, managing and commercializing IP assets

Corporate attorney

Corporate lawyers provide legal services for businesses and firms. Their services include but not limited to negotiating business contracts, draft legal contracts, review legal documents and ultimately ensure client is meeting their business goal.

Labour lawyer

They represent both employer and employees in dispute negotiations. Their work is closely related to that of Employment Lawyer.

Estate planning lawyer

They advise and prepare their clients in order to prepare for the possibility of death of illness.

Tax lawyer

Tax attorneys advise individuals, businesses, and government agencies on taxes, tax laws, tax disputes, and accounting matters.

Bankruptcy Lawyer

Contract Lawyer

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