The legal advisor is a person who advises another, usually in an official capacity, about various matters of law.
A more cynical approach would be that of American actor Will Rogers who said: ”Make crime pay. Become a lawyer.”
A legal advisor can be employed by large or smaller companies, other organisations or by the government to provide legal services, advice and guidance to the organisation and its employees. In other words legal advisors are in-house lawyers, as compared to advocates and attorneys, who provide their services to the public as a whole rather than to a specific employer. They seldom operate in court rooms.
Most legal advisors are former attorneys or advocates who have chosen to work in a corporate environment. Therefore, the requirements and training for a legal advisor are roughly the same as for attorneys and advocates.
A legal advisor should have lots of ambition, be totally dedicated and maintain a disciplined approach. On top of this he or she however needs various special characteristics and skills of which honesty, decisiveness and integrity are very highly regarded in the profession. Other crucial characteristics include always being objective in a matter, being able to distinguish facts from irrelevant detail and having the ability to solve problems, big and small. A legal advisor also needs outstanding communication skills, discretion, good judgment, diplomacy and tact, to name but a few. Working under pressure at times comes with the territory.
Job opportunities are endless for the legal advisor. They can work for companies or organisations; central, provincial or local government; at law schools; at legal aid societies; be self-employed or work in private practice.
Currently a legal advisor in South Africa with one to three years experience can expect to earn between R450.000 and R650.000 per annum whilst a qualified lawyer with over 10 years experience would earn around R1.3 million. These figures are however merely rough estimates, and are possibly on the conservative side.