Join Regenesys’s 25+ Years Legacy

Awaken Your Potential

By submitting this form, you agree to our Terms & Conditions.

South Africa, which is world-renowned as a vibrant country with a well-established, multi-faceted and incredibly historical-based legal system, has created a working environment that tends to foster and favour diversity in the workplace. In this article, which will be focussing on the legal profession in South Africa, we will discuss the demand for various legal roles across the corporate sector, specifically those roles noted for their high earning potential.

Whilst it is almost impossible to determine the exact amounts commanded by legal practitioners in certain fields, research has shown that within the legal sphere in South Africa the following jobs earn the most. We also discuss the general qualifications these high earning legal professionals possess.

In this article, we will discuss:

  • Factors which influence the salary of legal professionals
  • Legal qualifications in South Africa that you can hold to land these positions
  • Positions in more traditional law roles that command the highest salaries
  • Positions in corporate legal environments that command the highest salaries
  • How you can become a high-earning legal professional

Factors which influence the salary of legal professionals

The earnings of a legal professional in South Africa can be influenced by several factors. These include:

Level of experience: As is the case with many professions, should a practitioner have more experience than another, the more in-demand their services will be, and therefore the more the practitioner will earn. The thinking is that professionals who have more experience are able to handle and deal with more complex and challenging cases. This will mean their experience and therefore expertise hold more value to the client.

Specialisation: Certain fields of law are, by definition, more lucrative than others. Those who go on to specialise in a high-demand field of law, for example corporate, intellectual property, or tax law, will be able to command higher fees. 

Geography: Legal professionals in large South African cities like Johannesburg or Cape Town can charge their clients higher fees. This is often because such large cities are also the home of the headquarters of bigger, more affluent companies.

Type of employer: Whether a person is working in private practice, for a multinational company, the civil service, or non-profit concerns will determine the upper bracket of that person’s earnings. Employees or those who work for international firms or top law firms in general will ordinarily command more than those in the civil service or working for a charity.

Qualifications: Legal practitioners who hold advanced qualifications or degrees, such as a master’s degree or international certification in a specialised area of law, will be able to command higher remuneration.

What jobs can you get with an LLB degree?

Legal qualifications in South Africa that you can hold to land these positions

In order to find yourself in a high-paying legal position in South Africa, the first step is to earn the correct qualification, credentials, and registrations. In the field of law, a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree is almost mandatory for all areas, especially those discussed in this article. The LLB, a four-year degree, can be earned on its own, or after completing a bachelor’s degree. This ensures a practitioner, no matter where they find themselves working, has a concrete foundation in legal principles and practices. Occasionally, graduates with an LLB will opt to further their legal studies by undergoing a Master of Laws (LLM) degree. As discussed above, those with extra-qualifications or postgraduate specialisation may be able to find more lucrative career positions. 

According to the Robert Walters Salary Survey, lawyers in South Africa can expect the following salary ranges:

Junior Level (1-3 years of experience): ZAR 500,000 – ZAR 800,000 per year.

Mid-Level (3-6 years of experience): ZAR 800,000 – ZAR 1.5 million per year.

Senior Level (6+ years of experience, including partners): ZAR 1.5 million and above per year.

Positions in more traditional law roles that command the highest salaries

  1. Senior Advocate/Counsel: Often recognised as the apex of the legal profession, Senior Advocates (or Senior Counsel) tend to command some of the highest salaries in the legal field. They offer specialised advice to clients and represent them in the high courts, courts of appeal, and the Constitutional Court. Their intricate understanding of law and legal proceedings, coupled with their experience, makes them invaluable to their clients.

    Qualification: Most Senior Advocates hold a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree. They then pass a Bar exam and complete a period of what’s referred to as ‘pupillage’, a year of practical training under a qualified advocate. After a decade of practice as a junior advocate, counsel may be appointed as a Senior Advocate.
  2. Corporate Lawyers: Corporate lawyers handle a variety of legal issues for corporations, including mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, and compliance matters. Given the high stakes involved in these transactions – often for very large companies – corporate lawyers earn a significant remuneration.

    Qualification: The LLB degree is a basic requirement once again, followed by admission as an attorney after passing a set of exams. Often further certificate courses will be completed by these practitioners.
  3. Intellectual Property Lawyers: Intellectual Property (IP) lawyers are highly respected in the world of business, as their main role is to legally protect their clients’ intellectual assets. Now that we are in a digital economy, the role of the IP lawyer has gained even more importance, leading to higher fees being charged in this area.

    Qualification: As with the previous roles, an LLB degree is a must, followed by passing the Attorneys Admission Exam. Usually, as specialisation in Intellectual Property through the coursework or research associated with a master’s degree will see the practitioner earning a higher salary.
  4. Tax Lawyers: Specialising in complex tax laws and regulations, Tax lawyers advise assist individuals, companies and corporations in tax planning and their interactions with tax authorities.

    Qualification: Tax lawyers often hold a postgraduate qualification in tax law or finance, such as a Postgraduate Diploma in Tax Law, in addition to their Bachelor of Laws degree.
  5. Maritime Lawyers: Maritime Lawyers deal predominantly in marine commerce, shipping, marine navigation, and the laws associated therewith. Because South Africa has a large coastline and major ports that handle international trade, these attorneys are in demand in South Africa, and accordingly are able to command higher remuneration.

    Qualification: In addition to Bachelor of Law, the intricacies of this area of regulation often require a practitioner to have a specialisation that is acquired through postgraduate studies.

How much do beginner lawyers make in South Africa?

Positions in corporate legal environments that command the highest salaries

Professionals who hold the below positions have chosen to go into corporate legal environments rather than more traditional ones. Although they are non-practicing roles, they more often than not hold at minimum a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree

  1. General Counsels/Heads of Legal in In-house Roles: These professionals manage legal departments in large corporations, with responsibilities that directly influence the companies’ strategies and decisions.
  2. Chief Compliance Officers/Heads of Compliance: These roles are responsible for ensuring that companies follow all external regulations and internal policies, a crucial function that often attracts a high salary.
  3. Group Company Secretaries: In this role, professionals provide legal advice at the highest level of a company, manage the legal department, and often have a strategic role in the company’s direction.
  4. Senior Counsels in In-house Roles: These professionals provide legal advice within companies and are usually specialised in particular areas of law.
  5. Senior Compliance Managers: These professionals manage compliance teams and are responsible for ensuring that companies adhere to both internal and external policies and regulations.

How you can become a high-earning legal professional

As we have discussed, the high earnings of these legal practitioners reflect their high level of expertise, years of education, and the complexity of the work they handle. Their roles often involve high-stakes decision-making and require specialised knowledge, making them critical assets to their clients or organisations. This, in turn, justifies their high remuneration.

You would have noticed that most of the legal practitioners above hold the Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree. At Regenesys School of Law, students can study the four-year fully accredited law programme either full time, part time, contact, or online. Joining Regenesys Law School means so much more than simply gaining the knowledge needed to be a legal professional in the intellectual sense.

Regenesys is internationally renowned for its commitment to holistic education, whereby the spiritual, physical, emotional, and cultural intelligences of each of its students are developed and honed. Specifically within the legal field, the importance of these aspects of a person’s outlook cannot be overstated. 

Register now for a Regenesys Bachelor of Law (LLB) programme, and begin the legal journey of a lifetime, changing you, changing your world, and awakening your full potential. 

What subjects do you need to study law in South Africa?

Please rate this article

4 / 5. 4

Mark Wasserman

LLB Head of Strategic Communications | Regenesys Business School A lawyer by training, Mr Wasserman worked as a journalist and editor for a range of publications prior to joining Regenesys as a senior editor. He indulges both his creative and analytical mind teaching part time on Regenesys’ LLB programme, which has rapidly become his first love.

Author Mark Wasserman

LLB Head of Strategic Communications | Regenesys Business School A lawyer by training, Mr Wasserman worked as a journalist and editor for a range of publications prior to joining Regenesys as a senior editor. He indulges both his creative and analytical mind teaching part time on Regenesys’ LLB programme, which has rapidly become his first love.

Write A Comment

Exit mobile version