FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What sets Adams & Adams apart from other firms?

We do not compare ourselves to others but to how much we have grown over time and how much potential for growth we still have. We were awarded the best IP firm in Africa over the last three years. We are actively growing our Commercial, Property and Litigation department and have recently opened Adams Forensics.

I am a Science student and am interested in following a path of becoming a Patent Attorney – how do I go about it?

The following requirements have been set out by the firm for registration as a Patent attorney:

1. Firstly, the applicant must have a technical degree. The degree would generally be in one of the following disciplines. The qualifications set out below are those required by Adams & Adams. Other firms of patent attorneys may have different requirements.

 Engineering

The minimum engineering requirement is a four-year degree in chemical, metallurgical, mechanical, electrical, and electronic or civil engineering. Preferably, the candidate should have some work experience in the relevant field, although this is not an absolute requirement.

Chemistry

The minimum chemistry requirement is a master’s degree or higher in chemistry, preferably in organic chemistry. Again, the candidate should have some work experience in the relevant field although this is not an absolute requirement.

Biochemistry/Molecular Biology

The minimum requirement in biochemistry or molecular biology is a master’s degree or higher. Preferably the applicant should have a Ph.D. in biochemistry or molecular biology.

Other Qualifications

Qualifications such as pharmacy, physics, and so on,  or even a relevant technical diploma, may be considered.

2. To become a patent attorney, an applicant must also have a law degree. The minimum requirement is an LLB. Generally, the applicant would already have a technical degree and would start work as a candidate attorney at the firm, studying law on a part-time basis.

3. Patent Examination Board (PEB) Examination. In order to become a patent attorney, it is also necessary to pass the prescribed examinations in the field of intellectual property i.e., examinations set by the PEB. These examinations cover, amongst others, the areas of patent and design law. The most important examination deals with the drafting of patent specifications. The drafting of patent specifications is probably the most crucial function performed by a patent attorney. The minimum period for completing these examinations is two year. However, because of the workload, candidates take at least three years.

4. Admission as an attorney. In order to become a patent attorney, it is also necessary to be admitted as an attorney. This requires passing the prescribed attorneys admission examinations. These examinations are generally spread out over a period of two years. It is possible to study towards the LLB degree and the PEB examinations at the same time. However, it is unlikely that a candidate, who already has a technical degree, would complete the LLB, PEB examinations and admission examinations in less than five years. If you have any further queries or questions, please let us know.

Are there any specific subjects I need to take in order for my application to be looked at favourably by the firm?

No, we use a multi-pronged approach to considering applications. However, good results for Contract Law and Civil Procedure are important for you as a legal practitioner.

We not only look at marks, we look for candidates who display the following attributes: Resilience; Adaptability; Service Oriented; Entrepreneurial; Embrace Diversity; Interpersonal skills and Ambition.

Do I need to know Afrikaans to work at Adams & Adams given that the firm is located in Pretoria?

Our language of business is English; however, we do appreciate candidates who can communicate fluently in more than one of the country’s official languages.

Do you prefer students who have studied a straight LLB or an undergraduate degree before the LLB?

We trust our assessment process to identify the attributes we look for in candidates; therefore, the choice of path to get an LLB is not important to us.

Do you as a firm consider certain universities superior over others when considering candidates for selection?

No, we believe it is up to the candidate’s attitude and performance during our recruitment initiatives. No matter where you started, if you become one of us, the journey will be enriched by your experience at the firm.

Do you offer job shadowing to students?

We offer the Vacation Programme, which is an opportunity for a candidate to become a CA at the firm. Job shadowing is, therefore, not provided.

How do I apply to be appointed at your branch offices?

You apply as normal, stating  in your motivational letter which position you are applying for. Note, there are a limited number of positions available at the branch offices, and as such, we may not be able to accommodate all requests.

How do you ensure that the CA integrates into the firm when they commence articles?

Our orientation programme spans over 90 days, therefore, CAs gradually have an opportunity to learn and acclimatise into the firm.

Do you appoint international students?

International students are appointed if they have permanent Residence status – this is in line with the legislation governing the admission of attorneys.

Do you assist with accommodation and travel during the vacation programme?

We do assist students based on financial need.

How many CAs do you recruit per year?

We recruit 18 to 20 CAs per year. We are now recruiting CAs for 2022 and 2023.

What was your retention rate in 2019?

Out of the 20 CAs appointed in 2018, we have retained 14 of our CAs as Associates. That is a 70% retention rate.

What factors does the firm consider when making a decision to retain CAs?

The attitude of the CA, their work performance and the availability of positions. We believe that we recruit the best CAs and that even if we have not retained a CA, we will have trained them well enough to secure employment elsewhere.

Where are your offices located?

Our head office is in Pretoria with offices in Sandton, Cape Town, and Durban. The offices in Cape Town and Durban are speciality offices, focusing only on Intellectual Property Law.

What will I do as a CA?

We offer unrivalled training, ongoing support and excellent opportunities for a long and rewarding career.  Our training is aimed at developing reputable professionals and future partners of the firm.

We endeavour to rotate CAs between the various departments of the firm. Candidates will generally be afforded the opportunity to gain experience in various practice areas within the Commercial, Property and Litigation Department and the Trademarks Department.

On-the-job training is of primary importance and candidates are involved in the firm’s day-to-day activities in order to develop skills and gain experience in as wide a range of practice areas as possible. This training is supported by a formal lecture programme, offered by partners and senior professionals.

In addition, the firm offers in-house PLT accredited by the Law Society of South Africa to ensure that CAs have no difficulty in passing their Attorneys’ Competency Based Exams.

The firm is generally supportive of candidates who wish to obtain additional qualifications in their chosen field of specialisation.

Further, candidates interested in pursuing a career in intellectual property will also be supported in their attendance of, and participation in, the specialised courses offered by the South African Institute of Intellectual Property (SAIIPL).

Special training is also provided, to the extent necessary, in relation to computer skills, drivers education, etc. with a view of ensuring that our CAs are placed in a position overcome any previous disadvantages arising out of unequal opportunities.

What training do you offer?

Induction: Upon joining Adams & Adams, CAs are involved in a comprehensive induction programme.

Hands-on training: Adams & Adams believes that practical experiences is the most effective way to become a competent attorney. Each CA is therefore appointed to a partner and his/her professional team for a period of at least six months. During this time, the CA is able to gain hands-on experience through involvement in all aspects of the reporting partner’s day-to-day practice, including:

  • attending consultations
  • taking instructions
  • attending court
  • drafting documentation
  • drafting opinions
  • doing research, and much more

Regular feedback on performance is provided, based on delivery rating to the above aspects. Such feedback sessions take place formally, on a six-monthly basis, through our comprehensive performance appraisal system.

Rotation Programme: Adams & Adams follows a policy of rotating CAs in order to enhance their exposure and experience.

The Human Resources Department considers the CA allocations every three months and makes recommendations to the Graduate Recruitment Committee. Rotations are affected on a six-monthly basis, taking into account the input of the CAs and the needs of the firm.  

In-House Training Lectures: Our in-house training programme takes into account the interests of CAs and that of the firm. It runs over the first 11 months of articles and provides practical insight into various fields and aspects of law in which CAs can expect to gain experience and knowledge.

All CAs are obliged to attend this programme.

In-House Practical Legal Training (PLT): We require all first year CAs to attend the Practical Legal Training presented in-house by technical experts employed by the firm. The Law Society and the Supervising Attorney at the firm oversees the presentation of the classes and ensures that the programme meets the expected standards.

The objective of PLT is to supplement the training provided by the firm and to provide the overall knowledge, skills and attitude required for a competent attorney in practice. The course is practice-orientated, and emphasis is placed on the Attorneys Competency Based Examinations.

The classes are presented in the evenings during the week during the first eight months of the year.

Do you pay for further study?

Each application is dealt with on merit. If the applicant and his/her position in the firm will benefit the area of study, it is likely that support will be given.

Will I be able to do my LLM during my articles?

Yes, you could, but we do not recommend it because your two-year period is a busy one, wherein you will be undertaking PLT lectures, the firm’s own lecture programme and preparing for your admission examinations.

Should I do PLT before I start articles with you?

You do not have to. The firm presents the course in-house at no cost to the CA.  

Do you offer bursaries?

Yes, as part of our Career Development and Recruitment programme, we award the E.V. Adams Scholarship on a yearly basis. Students enrolled at a South African University who demonstrate consistently strong academic performance. South African Citizens studying towards their BA Law/BCom Law/ LLB degree.

First year students must provide their Grade 11 and 12 results, indicating that they have maintained a B symbol or higher in English and a C symbol or higher in Mathematics since Grade 11. Furthermore, they must demonstrate their financial need for support. Tertiary students must have maintained a higher than average academic standard. The bursary programme is provided to students with a view to employment as Candidate Attorneys at the firm.

E-mail your questions regarding the Scholarship to gradrecruitment@adams.africa or gradrecruitment@adamsadams.com. Applications for the scholarship open on 1 November and close on 28 February each year.