What you should know about becoming an Administrative Lawyer
Love law, transparency, the constitution and helping people? Then pursuing a career as an administrative lawyer might be a great choice. Legal jobs in South Africa offer challenging and rewarding career paths and today we wanted to take a closer look at administrative law.
What is Administrative Law?
Administrative law is a branch of law that has its roots in administration, which consists of general administrative and particular administrative law.
General administrative law is broader and sets out principles, rules and remedies that all must take note of, while particular administrative law focuses on specific areas of relevant law, from immigration, state tendering, land-use planning, refugees and much more.
Another important aspect is the PAJA; it forms a large part of this field of law and helps bind local, national and provincial administration and law. It does this by setting out rules on performance, sets standards on administrative action, requires transparency, and sets out various remedies to follow if laws or rules aren’t being followed.
The constitution plays a large role in administrative justice as the right to such justice is set out in section 33 of the Constitution and helps in keeping a fair and open democratic state. Section 33 provides the chance to have impartial decisions made and requires fair, reasonable administrative action, which is free of prejudice or bias.
All of this plays a role in what you do as an administrative lawyer and how you would go about enforcing and applying relevant aspects of the law, and constitution, to your work and cases.
Legal jobs in this field of law involves drawing up legal documents, conduct cases and lawsuits as well as advise various clients, from government to clients on relevant aspects of the law.
Responsibilities and Tasks of an Administrative Lawyer
Legal careers in this field of law can be found across government and private practises and firms, and there is a range of tasks of the job on a day-to-day basis. While it may differ depending on which industry you find yourself in, there are certain similarities throughout.
The various tasks of an administrative lawyer will include writing up rules, procedure and regulation that has been issued by the government and other relevant state bodies.
You’ll also help with and provide legal advice to those within the industry, from experts to staff, to help ensure that the proposed regulations and rules are in line with the laws of South Africa and are upheld within the constitution. This is done by ensuring that government and their agencies utilise regulations as required and necessary.
You’ll also be asked to analyse and comment on proposed rules and regulations, as well as look at public feedback on the matter and see where it ties in.
These types of legal jobs will also see you responsible for conducting regulatory hearings for those who may be affected by the various, proposed changes in rules, while you will also be in charge of publicising it and speaking to interest groups on the matter.
You’ll also help with various cases, arrange witnesses, discuss settlement and look at a range of cases to defend or prosecute regulatory irregularities.
You’ll also help in various litigation processes, whether challenging it or defending it, while you may also represent a client, special interest association or agency in various hearings.
All of the tasks associated with these types of legal careers will look at various aspects of law, which require logical process, substantive correctness as well as reasonableness throughout.
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Skills required for a career in Administrative Law
As an administrative lawyer you’ll need a range of skills that cover a wide spectrum, from research, communication, problem solving to reasoning and much more. All of which help on cases and in various situations.
You’ll need to be able to think critically, identify different aspects of each case, explain, determine and analyse a range of situations and principles.
This means you’ll need to be a logical thinker, great communicator, as you’ll have to explain various aspects and concepts to both your clients and the courts. You’ll see much of this when discussing the implications and the role of the law in various cases. This is why being confident and persuasive in your arguments are useful.
These types of legal jobs will require you to be empathic and understanding as many of your cases will involve constitutional, legal and human rights issues.
You’ll also need to have great research and critical judgement skills, be able to reason, solve problems and write concisely.
You’ll also need to explain complex information to a range of people who may not be familiar with the law, as well as formulate sound arguments to best present your case.
Legal careers in administrative law requires you to determine the scope of certain cases and explain context and content of various administrative action, which require foresight, planning and an analytic approach.
You’ll also need to draft formal documents, interpret and apply administrative action as well as evaluate and identify issues and fair procedures. All of which require focus and an attention to detail.
An administrative lawyer also spends a lot of time on cases, the main skills you’ll need are critical thinking, the ability to analyse, evaluate and identify a range of issues and set out the best way to approach them, which requires logical thought and a high level of attention to detail.
Salary and Career
The salary expectations and career prospects for legal jobs, as they are always in demand, and administrative lawyers are no different. The average salary for an attorney, or a lawyer, is R185,066 each year, but it varies depending on the specialisation. As for the career prospects, administrative lawyers can gain a vast range of experience, and eventually start their own practise where they specialise.
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Education and Training for Administrative Lawyers
Specific training is needed in order to become an administrative lawyer. In South Africa, one needs to be a specialised, and qualified and admitted attorney or an advocate to practise this type of law. To specialise, one needs to have studied law, where you can choose to specialise in public law, and then gain relevant work experience either with the government or private firm.
Want to get started with legal careers? You can choose to study at a wide range of universities across the country.
UCT offers an LLM in Constitutional and Administrative Law, which aims to provide a strong background and understanding of the constitution, human rights, as well as administrative justice.
The LLM takes about 4 to 5 years to complete depending on various factors.
You can also study at the Mandela Institute, at WITS, which offers a range of short courses, one of which is in Advanced Administrative Law.
The course is a postgraduate certified course and new and old law practitioners can try their hand at it. It allows you to update your skillset or refresh your knowledge.
The University of Pretoria offers a broader range of teaching, with graduates coming out with a Public Law focus. You can choose to study through the Department of Public Law where you can focus on a range of areas from constitutional law, legal interpretation and administrative law among the few.
The program takes around 4 to 5 years to complete.
If you are interested in legal careers and looking for work as an administrative lawyer, Job Mail is the perfect place to start. With various legal jobs, register your CV on Job Mail and start applying for vacancies!