The legal profession in South Africa is divided into advocates (barristers) and attorneys (solicitors). No dual practice is permitted.

The advocates’ profession in South Africa is a referral profession. This means that a client approaches an attorney who, in turn, instructs an advocate.

The requirements for admission as an advocate in terms of the Admission of Advocates Act, 74 of 1964, are:

Subject to the provisions of any other law, any division shall admit to practice and authorize to be enrolled as an advocate any person who upon application made by him/her satisfies the court:

  1. that he/she is over the age of twenty-one years and is a fit and proper person to be so admitted and authorized;
  2. that he/she is duly qualified;
  3. that he/she is a South African citizen or that he/she has been lawfully admitted to the Republic for permanent residence therein and is ordinarily resident in the Republic;
  4. in the case of any person who has at any time been admitted to practice as an attorney in any court in the Republic or elsewhere, that his/her name has been removed from the roll of attorneys on his/her own application.

The GCB is a federal body representing the organized advocates’ profession in South Africa, and has ten constituent societies of practising advocates called Bars. There is a Bar at the seat of every provincial and local division of the High Court of South Africa.

The requirements for membership of a Bar are a Bachelor of Laws degree (LLB), obtained at a South African university, and completion of a one year pupillage, which consists of a practical course during the first half and followed by the bar examinations and advocacy training skills towards the end..

Membership of a Bar is limited to advocates in private practice. Members of the Bar are obliged to occupy chambers and are bound by the rules of ethics of individual Bars.