Most law students female, 74% black

2011-01-23 11:53

Johannesburg -  The composition of first-year law students is irrevocably changing and reflects the transformation the profession is currently undergoing.

According to the Law Society of South Africa's department of legal education and development (LEAD), last year there were more women (3 873) first-year students than men (3 118) studying law. Almost 74% of the first-years were black.

Most law students choose the four-year LLB degree while fewer students tackle BCom LLB.

Although an increasing number of students were queuing up to study law, LEAD director Nic Swart said this was not necessarily a bad thing.

He believed a law degree to be one of the most versatile qualifications.

There were indeed graduates who struggled to find jobs, but someone who worked hard and showed initiative should succeed.

Some of the big international law firms, including Davis Polk & Wardwell, had been recruiting South African graduates for some years.

The brain drain in the legal profession had not yet reached crisis proportions, but Swart said this was something local law firms needed to take note of.

While the top students usually adjusted well in practice, incisive questions were being asked about the overall quality of graduates and their ability to function in the highly competitive legal profession.

Swart said a general complaint received from legal firms was that candidate attorneys’ reading, writing and numerical skills were “shockingly” weak. Even large legal firms that attracted the strongest students experienced this problem.

According to Swart, many graduates also struggled with technology and legal resources, such as law reports and legal reference books. He said prospective law students should undertake thorough research before deciding on a university.

Although most of the country’s 17 law faculties’ LLB curricula more or less corresponded, there was often a huge difference in methods of lecturing.

- Sake24

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  • haha - 2011-01-23 14:37

    They can barely speak English and now they want to be lawyers. "shockingly weak"

  • pagel - 2011-01-23 14:42

    It makes sense - woman are naturally more argumentative than men :-).

  • james4usa - 2011-01-23 21:26

    More 3rd rate lawyers like Johnnie Cochran of OJ Simpson infamy.

  • dale - 2011-01-24 02:26

    and this is now serves as a platform for whites to unleash their racist culture towards black achivement.

  • Black Child - 2011-01-24 05:12

    Do this whole article is basically saying blacks shouldn't study law???? Pathetic. Can't believe how racist the media is, I mean what the hell do u mean that it's not such a bad thing that more blacks are studying law. Fact of the matter is y'all white imbeciles can't stand seeing a black child thriving in Proffesions u want only to ne presereved for you, you're still stick in the apartheid era of Bantu education. Get it through your heads, ull never be in power again

  • Charms - 2011-01-24 07:44

    @haha ... how can you say that, that is such a racist comment

  • MATUZI@haha - 2011-01-24 08:16

    You must like a whole lot who still haven't transformed to new South Africa. People like you still 'digging up the graves.' everyone has got a chance to be who they want to be including being a lawyer. It is a disappointment that there are people who still think like you. I am sure you also tell your kids how inferior people of color are! Get over yourself. You're a failure...haha!

  • JoJo - 2011-01-24 08:22

    If their 3 R's are seen to be so weak now, after they have graduated, how the hell did they pass their degree in the first place?

  • Zee - 2011-01-24 08:46

    Not surprising there are more blacks. Apparently wits medical school only accepts 5 % white students and 30% indian students. Not sure how the other departments work. Im sure the same.

  • josy - 2011-01-24 09:20

    hope they don't feminise the law -this people are too emotional.just thing of a woman lawyer granting custody to the father- she might slip and think as hers.

  • Liezl - 2011-01-24 10:08

    Pretty cool, but I wonder where the men are going?

  • Eric - 2011-01-24 10:10

    I heard something interresting on radio news about two months ago. It was stated that the MAJORITY of South African law interns were unable to read or write. Got to make you wonder about the standards we keep in this country.

  • Warren - 2011-01-24 11:08

    With the lowering of standards each year by our universities and education department this would have happened sooner or later. The only question remains how many of these students will finish their degrees?

  • jnrb - 2011-01-24 11:48

    Swart said: “Although an increasing number of students were queuing up to study law, this was not necessarily a bad thing. He believed a law degree to be one of the most versatile qualifications”. What a load of rubbish Swart is talking!! After having qualified with a Masters degree in law I still couldn't find a job and had to do data capturing for 2 years just to make a living. LLB is the most overrated and useless professional qualification there is. Unlike the CA’s South African LLb’s can’t practice overseas and hence there are just too many of them all fighting for the small client base who can actually afford their fees. Thank goodness I got my break in corporate tax 10 years ago and got out in time - I never looked back. I wouldn’t advise my kids to go and study law it’s a dead end- either CA/Actuary or plumber/electrician.

  • @Black Child - 2011-01-24 13:03

    Professions, not proffesions..preserved, not imbecile.

  • Johnathan - 2011-01-24 13:52

    Black Child, how on earth do you get that idea from this article??? Are you reading the same thing that I am reading? The guy didn't say that "it's not necessarily a bad thing" that more and more BLACK students were "queuing up to study law". He was referring to all students, and from the context it is clear that he means that the perception could be that if too many people study law, there will be an oversupply and they won't find jobs! It's blindingly obvious, but yet you just read RACISM into it. Maybe you should also brush up on your reading skills (and that is not racism, it's just constructive criticism).

  • Future - 2011-01-24 15:02

    it awesome to see the amount of blacks coming through the education system and not riding the government with the "aparthied held me back story" the more educated the better, maybe more people will realise the lack of education and integrity within our leaders!

  • Parrie - 2011-01-24 15:09

    Pick a card, any one...

  • @ Black Child 2 - 2011-01-24 15:13

    I think what Black Child is trying to say is that, in light of the fact that most law students are black, and the "reading, writing and numerical" skills of many candidate attorneys are not acceptable; the article somehow suggests that those skills are lacking because a majority of the candidates are in fact black (if that can even be suggested by carefully reading this article). BlackChild, you for one, would make a shockingly pathetic lawyer (of any kind) with that argument. You clearly know very little about any of the proffessions in the legal industry. The article points out certain statistics (are you calling the statistics racist too?) and goes on to, as a seperate issues, comment on the state of the attorney's proffession and the general quality of candidates. Again the article refers to statistics and FACTS. Those cannot be racist. I also suspect, from your glorius spelling, that you may be one of the candidates in question Good luck living in the past.

  • Lawyer - 2011-02-01 17:03

    It is not only law students who have challenges with writing, reading and nuwerical skills. It is an university wide experience - and not only in South Africa but worldwide. There are many discussions and scientific studies in this regard that could be read. The skills debate is something that is taken seriously by all universities and faculties - not only law. It has nothing to do with race or gender. It applies to all students across the board. Law Faculties developed specific Legal Skills modules to assist students with e.g. legal drafting and legal accounting, skills that are necessary to prepare them for legal practice. Law students are not only trained to become attorneys or advocates but work as legal advisors, prosecutors, in government, banks etc. If students perform, have good results, are prepared to work and to start from scratch, there is work. All graduates at my former university indicated at the graduation ceremony that they were employed or further their post-graduate studies.

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