How to find a divorce lawyer in Cape Town, South Africa

Roles of attorneys and advocates in divorce cases



court gavel and law bookVery often a client who comes to consult an attorney does not know the difference between an attorney and an advocate.

An attorney must complete his/her LL.B. degree and thereafter do articles at a law firm in order to be admitted as an attorney. An attorney deals directly with members of the public and takes his instructions from them. The attorney may appear in a Magistrate’s Court or a High Court.

An advocate on the other hand receives instructions directly from the attorney. The advocate also studies for a LL.B. degree, but thereafter goes to the “Bar” to do his or her pupillage under another advocate. The pupil who wishes to become an advocate will write a different examination to the candidate attorney who wishes to become an attorney. You need not become an attorney first in order to become an advocate.

The first person to consult in a divorce matter would be an attorney (“lawyer”), and he/she will then decide whether it is necessary to instruct an advocate or not. Advocates are very often used when divorce matters are heard in the High Court as opposed to the lower court. The attorney would first establish what the value of the assets is and whether the client can financially afford to pursue the High Court route as opposed to the Lower Court route.

The advocate may become involved in the divorce case either right from the start when the summons is drafted, or at a later stage when the matter eventually goes to court for hearing. Advocates are quite useful specifically as they have more High Court experience than attorneys, and sometimes also more experience in actual court work. They do not however only appear in the High Court but also in the lower courts. In Cape Town the offices of the advocates are all in close proximity to the High Court.

I personally seldom instruct advocates in order to save my clients costs. One should rather choose an attorney who is able to attend to the divorce without instructing an advocate, as advocates’ fees are very expensive.

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