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Advocate PDF Print E-mail

Job Overview
An advocate is a lawyer who, for a fee, pleads in court on behalf of persons or organisations, including the State. He or she acts for the plaintiff or the defendant. Other duties of an advocate include rendering legal advice or opinions, and drafting contracts and other legal documents.

What do people do in this job?
Representing either the plaintiff or the defendant in a civil matter where two people or two corporate bodies are involved in a dispute, e.g.  claim for damages, breach of contract, divorce case, requiring legal expertise, an advocate will try to have the dispute settled in favour of his/her client.

Usually the person or corporate body will have been referred to the advocate by an attorney if the dispute is of such a nature that it requires the specific expertise of an advocate or when the case has come up before the High Court. The advocate will investigate all the facts pertaining to the dispute and give the client advice on how to plead and what the chances of success are.

The advocate will first try to have the dispute settled out of court. However, if it cannot be resolved in this way it will come before a magistrate or judge who will listen to the testimony of both parties and of their witnesses and the arguments of the advocates on both sides.

Advocates should ensure that all the evidence in their party's favour is brought forward and that their opponent's evidence is tested by cross examination.

In criminal cases an advocate can either defend the accused in court, or, if working for the State, act as prosecutor.

What kind of person is suitable for this career?
An advocate should be a person of scrupulous honesty and the highest integrity. A good measure of self confidence is important, too, coupled with an ability to think literally “on one's feet" and to present arguments clearly, authoritatively and incisively.

Apart from setting up in private practice, an advocate can work as a state advocate in the Attorney General's office, or as a legal advisor for the state or a big company.

What qualifications are needed?
A university law degree plus, in some cases, experience in a lawyer's office.

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