Wits 2024 law career fair spells out the ABC’s of landing a job in the profession

Law students explore diverse career options at the 2024 law career fair.

The Wits Law Student Council hosted over 31 law firms and organisations on campus to grant students an opportunity to forge relationships with prospective employers; and learn more about what is expected of them in the legal profession.

Students surrounding the career fair organiser, Milkias Gebremichael as he explained the rules of a game they participated in. Photo: Katlego Mtshali

The career fair was hosted on the April 9, 2024 at the Old Mutual Sports hall.

One of the organisers of the fair, Milkias Gebremichael said the purpose of the expo was to make students familiar with the profession by allowing them to ask questions related to vacation-work, articles and the daily realities of the career.

The fair consisted of lawyers working for NGOs, engaging in pro bono work, handling commercial cases, and those that work for smaller firms.

Bronywn Quin, HR manager at Poswa Incorporated law firm said it was her first time attending the fair, and she was excited as students who have graduated from Wits law school are employees at the firm.

Quin emphasised the importance of considering both academic achievements and extracurricular involvement when evaluating candidates for employment at the firm.

“The firm has maintained a long-standing, deep relationship with the Law faculty at the University of Witswatersrand, that is why we keep coming back to the annual career fair,” said Kasheer Singh, the graduate recruitment manager at the Bowmans law firm.

When hiring graduates for internships, permanent posts, and articles, the MacRobert Attorney law firm said they vet students according to the “EISH factor”. The E stands for energetic, the I for intelligent, the S for self-motivating and the H for hard-working.

Saneliso Ngubane, who works in the personal injury department within the firm, said what sets the firm apart is that they specialise in different forms of law.

Takalani Netshiavaha, a third-year LLB candidate said to Wits Vuvuzela that even though the career expo happens annually, each year students are introduced to new firms and information.

“The expo helps broaden our options, the human contact assists students to remain inspired knowing that the people who facilitate the expos are candidate attorneys, shows me my dreams are not far-fetched,” said Netshiavaha.

“I do not know any lawyers, I do not have any lawyers in my family, so this expo makes it feel more real, I get to network with people working for the biggest firms such as Bowmans, it helps me get in the door,” said LLB student, Matthew Robertson.

The Wits Students Law Council has announced that the next career expo will be held in the second semester in case students missed this one.

Witsies go to ConCourt

 

CONSTITUTIONAL ART: Nolubabalo Memese explains the symbolism of the architecture to 2nd year constitutional law students on Tuesday. Photo: Raquel De Canha

CONSTITUTIONAL ART: Nolubabalo Memese explains the symbolism of the architecture to 2nd year constitutional law students on Tuesday. Photo: Raquel De Canha

Over 300 Wits Constitutional Law students got their first chance to visit the Constitutional Court last week, as part of a programme that gives the students exposure to South Africa’s highest court.

Students for Law and Social Justice in collaboration with the Wits Law School and the Conhill Education Project, put together the event for 320 second-year Wits Law students.

“Less than 5% of Constitutional Law students have ever actually been to Constitutional Hill,”  said Tristan Jones, a member of Students for Law and Social Justice. 

Claudia Oliveira, 3rd year LLB, is one of the many Law students who have not had the chance to go visit the iconic space, despite Constitution Hill being within walking distance of Wits’ main campus.

“I didn’t have anybody interested enough to go with,” Oliveira said.

“Less than 5% of Constitutional Law students have ever actually been to Constitutional Hill,”

“It is definitely something that I want to do. But it would have been so much easier and more educational to have gone with Wits when it was relevant and I was learning about it,” Oliveira said. 

 Jones said the aim of the event is to “ensure that all Constitutional Law students are able to experience the highest court in the land”.  

Constitution Hill in Braamfontein has a history dating back to the 1892 when the Old Fort was built under the Zuid Afrikaans Republiek functioning as a prison. Today the site is home to the Woman’s Gaol museum, Number Four museum and the Old Fort museum. 

These areas host exhibitions that advocate human rights.

During the tour, students got an in-depth look at the jails on Constitution Hill, a tour of the art collection in the main Court and were also taken into the courtroom itself. 

Students for Law and Social Justice is a South African students’ organisation which aims to protect human rights, encourage social justice and help make justice more accessible. The group was formed among students from various universities around the country.      

Wits axes undergrad LLB degree

UPDATE: Read our interview with the Head of the School of Law, Prof Vinodh Jaichand, where he says that current students will not be affected by the scrapping of the LLB.

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ORIGINAL STORY:

Wits University has endorsed a decision of the Wits School of Law to only offer the LLB degree at postgraduate level from 2015. The decision means that the four-year LLB degree will no longer be offered.

See the full statement below:

“WITS SCHOOL OF LAW TO DISCONTINUE THE UNDERGRADUATE LLB DEGREE IN 2015

The University of the Witwatersrand has approved the plan of the School of Law to discontinue the undergraduate Bachelor of Laws degree (LLB) and to introduce the LLB postgraduate programme.

Following extensive discussions with members of the profession and academic colleagues, the Wits School of Law has decided to discontinue the undergraduate four-year LLB at the end of 2014. From 2015 all students with an interest in law will have to enrol in the postgraduate LLB programme which may take an additional two years for those who have completed the BA Laws or BCom Law. This is informed by the following reasons:

  • Response from the legal profession: In meetings with law firms and members of the Bar, one assessment was uniformly received –  the four-year undergraduate LLB does not adequately prepare students for the legal profession. This was further confirmed at the Society of Law Teachers of Southern Africa Conference held at the Wits School of Law in January 2014. Many point to the lack of maturity or awareness of the graduates to be given stewardship of clients’ affairs. Some firms of attorneys, who regularly recruit our graduates, employ them on the proviso that they complete additional academic qualifications, like such as the Bachelor of Laws Master degree. The proposed postgraduate LLB degree will enhance opportunities for the Wits School of Law graduates.
  • Completion rate: Our statistics point to the fact that only 30% (higher than the national average of 25%) of students enrolled in the School of Law complete the undergraduate degree in four years. Therefore a significant number take five or more years to complete the degree while a proportion is excluded for failing too many courses. Consequently, the throughput of law graduates is reduced. The proposed postgraduate LLB will ensure that at least one degree is obtained at the university level as students will only be admitted to the School of Law if they are in possession of a prior degree.
  • Entering the legal profession: It is estimated that about 50% of law graduates do enter the legal profession, if they are successful in securing a position as a candidate attorney. Some are compelled by financial hardship to go to the Bar immediately after graduation and find the learning curve to be too steep. Others enter allied areas such as civil society, international organisations, corporations and academe, to mention a few. The proposed postgraduate LLB degree will enhance opportunities for the Wits School of Law graduates.

 

“The rationale for the strategy is that a prior degree would already have prepared a prospective law student on the expectations of university education with some level of literacy, numeracy and exposure to the wider issues in South Africa and beyond, that are material in their understanding of law,” expands Professor Vinodh Jaichand, Head of the Wits School of Law.

This would mitigate the risk of exclusions from the study of law with the exposure to new areas of study.

“In addition there are many incomplete discussions on the future of the undergraduate LLB and the reform of legal education. It will be some time before reform takes place,” continues Jaichand.

“In the meanwhile, Wits cannot be a bystander to the challenges faced by law graduates, the legal profession and society,” he says.

The proposed postgraduate LLB will include additional courses in ethics legal research and writing course.

“A course in ethics will assist future lawyers to make the right decision in morally complex issues. While every lawyer is trained in the same way, issues of ethics have been assumed. Indeed, this is an issue of governance in our country today.”

The subject of ethics has also been identified by the Law Society of South Africa as a much needed subject in the law school curriculum.

“Furthermore, our discussions with the profession have identified the need for stronger research and writing skills. The postgraduate LLB will cater for this deficit,” explains Jaichand.

For queries contact Professor Vinodh Jaichand, Head of the Wits School of Law, on 073 959 2690 or email Vinodh.Jaichand@wits.ac.za