A question that often comes to mind when you’re looking for attorneys in South Africa is whether you need a generalist or a specialist. As with some other professions like medicine, law too has its share of the two categories; but unlike with doctors, lawyers’ clients have the option of choosing one or the other themselves.

South Africa has two broad categories of legal practitioners – attorneys who undertake all kinds of legal work and advocates who are specialist litigators. Apart from this, many advocates also choose to handle cases exclusively in one particular subject or sector – like family law, corporate or business matters, real estate, criminal law, or personal injury and gain experience and expertise in this area.

Making the Generalist vs Specialist decision

As in other parts of the world, South African attorneys generally choose their career paths quite early on. The type of firm they join can also dictate whether they become specialists or generalists. Larger firms have legal teams that have specialist lawyers on board to handle large, complex cases, while a smaller firm could have individual lawyers who do a variety of general work.

As a client, you need to consider certain aspects while engaging an attorney – for instance, the seriousness of your legal issue is one such factor. If your problem is routine, a generalist would suffice, but in complex matters, choose a specialist. Your budget is another important consideration because specialists tend to charge more. An exception would be personal injury attorneys who work on contingency fees. If you live in a large town, you have more options but a country-side offers a more personalised and closer contact. Specialists can also become part of a referral network that includes both types.

Get the legal advantage from Paul Du Plessis Attorneys

Laws all over the world have become more complex and there are new areas being added, such as environmental law, and cyber laws. Professional liability, immigration, entertainment, and sports are other areas that require specialised knowledge of the constantly evolving legal landscape. Today, clients are extremely savvy and specialists offer that competitive edge that clients want from their  attorneys in South Africa.

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