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Legal hotspots: South Africa

Posted by: Laurence Simons 18/06/15

Often, the up-and-coming hotspots for legal professionals emerge slowly from previously quiet corners of the globe. In recent months, South Africa has begun to establish itself as one of these areas, with much demand spanning the country. But what factors, exactly, are attracting so many lawyers to this area?

Well, the government is pouring heavy investment into industrialisation, with over £1bn in funds designated to projects within the next five years. Twinned with vast amounts of work in sanitisation – also providing South Africa with thousands of new jobs – the country is effectively developing its resources and “ending the bucket system” through wide-spread new sewerage projects. Also providing much demand are the vast numbers of renewable energy projects rooted here. Not only do these bring work, but roughly 15% of the profits go back towards local communities to be spent on health care, education and job creation.

So we can see that heavy investment into local and nationwide schemes is attracting the attention of lawyers looking to work in up-and-coming destinations. But what of the legal landscape itself?

The current specialist skills gap in South Africa touches on numerous branches of the law, with as many as 31% of employers claiming that they are having difficulties filling positions. Legal professionals from overseas are seizing the opportunity to move in, and with their expertise, they also bring a hunger to practice in this emerging market.

Progressive attitudes toward diversity within the sector are also attracting much top talent, with firms such as Webber Wentzel – where almost two thirds of the workforce are female – leading the way. The rise in opportunities for those typically overlooked in South Africa’s legal workforce history, which in the past was chiefly very white and male, have caught the eyes of many professionals considering working overseas.

So, with so much investment and demand, the future looks bright for South Africa.