Are you thinking about moving and working within the legal sector in South Africa? Do you wonder what the reality of life would be? This extremely diverse country is paradise for animal lovers and adventurers but what else can you expect?
About South Africa
If you are a South African qualified lawyer working in an international centre there is an ever increasing demand for your skills at home. Opportunities exist in cities such as Cape Town and Durban however the highest volume of roles are based in Johannesburg where most transactions take place.
Johan Botes, Head of Employment & Compensation, Baker McKenzie Johannesburg provides his insight into life in Johannesburg
Johannesburg is in its infancy having been established in 1886 with the discovery of gold. However, almost 8 million people call the greater Johannesburg area home (of which 4.4 million live in Johannesburg city). It is the largest city in South Africa and one of the top 50 urban areas in the world. This is not a typical concrete jungle; Johannesburg lays claim to the loose title of the largest “urban forest” in the world with more than 10 million trees covering parks and residential areas.
Hidden gems in Johannesburg are aplenty: a visit to the Constitutional Court, built on the site of the old jail where Nelson Mandela was once incarcerated for a period, is a must. Joburg (also known as Jozi or Egoli) brims with wonderful restaurants and hotels, and they are affordable to boot. A decent meal for two in a great restaurant will typically cost around 20-25 GBP, with numerous cheap eating places and accommodation if you are on a budget. Within two hours’ drive you’ll be able to see the Big 5, take a trip on a steam train, water-ski, or ride in a hot air balloon, to name a few popular activities.
Jozi is a dream destination for outdoor enthusiasts with road or trail running races taking place every weekend for most of the year. Road and mountain bike cycling is immensely popular, as is golf: South Africa hosts an enviable number of top golf courses where you can play a round of golf for less than 40 GBP!
Like any world city there are places you should not wander but statistics show that Johannesburg’s reputation as a violent city is exaggerated – the crime rate is lower than Cape Town, for instance, and daily life is indistinguishable from that in many other cities around the globe.
Johannesburg is spread over 1,645 km2, so we tend to drive a fair bit and are used to travelling when going out. The public transport system is not great, but improving. Best of all Joburg has the fastest internet service in Africa with Sandton, where most law firms are based, the very fastest.
Capital : Pretoria
Key legal centres : Sandton Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth
Area : 1,221,000 sq km
Total Population 2017 : 55.4 Million
Currency : South African Rand
Languages : South Africa has 11 official languages with English being the language of business, politics and the media. isiZulu and Afrikaans are also widely spoken
Timezone : South Africa Standard Time (SAST) +2 UTC
“Cape Town’s legal fraternity is distinctly collegial and an environment that is primed to give you the perfect work-life balance. As a young professional, it’s exciting to be part of a fraternity that’s culture is transformative, both traditional and innovative and seasoned yet vibrant. Practicing cutting edge law whilst living under the watchful eye of Table Mountain, is an added bonus.”
Mudzuli, Dispute Resolution Lawyer, Cape Town
"Being in one of Africa's financial hub's affords exciting opportunities to work on some of the biggest deals and disputes on the continent. Working as a lawyer in Jo'burg is fast paced and you need to be up for the challenge, the going can get tough. But collaborating with the the best talent around creates a special environment to work, live and play."