South Africa is one of the leading economies in Africa, powering the continent in industrial output and mineral production and generating a large proportion of Africa's electricity. The country has plentiful natural resources, well-developed financial, legal, communications, energy and transport sectors, a stock exchange ranked among the top 20 in the world, and a modern infrastructure supporting efficient distribution of goods throughout the southern African region.
South Africa has a world-class and progressive legal framework. Legislation governing commerce, labour and maritime issues is particularly well developed, and laws on competition policy, copyright, patents, trademarks and disputes conform to international norms and conventions. The country's financial systems are sophisticated and robust. The banking regulations rank with the best in the world, and the sector has long been rated among the top 10 globally.
Not only is South Africa itself an important emerging economy, it is also the gateway to other African markets. The country plays an important role in supplying energy, relief aid, transport, communications and investment on the continent. Its well-developed road and rail links provide the platform and infrastructure for ground transportation deep into Africa.
Johannesburg is the commercial and legal market hub of South Africa, with all the major banks and leading firms based there. In addition to big-ticket corporate and finance experts, many of the country's specialist mining and project finance lawyers are based here.
Cape Town, the second largest city, is another major hub with most of the financial institutions and law firms having significant offices there. In particular Cape Town is known for private banking, insurance, asset management, hedge funds and increasingly Energy and Oil & Gas related work. It also gets its fair share of corporate activity involving retail, printing and agricultural companies.
Recent years has seen strong growth in the South African legal market with both local and international law firms building out their platforms to take advantage of opportunities on the wider continent. The increasing complexity of cross border deals and the demand for internationally standardised advice has pushed up the demand for high calibre local and foreign qualified lawyers. In particular, there is continued demand for Corporate, Banking & Finance, Project Finance, Energy, Infrastructure and Oil & Gas lawyers.
Salaries, whilst lower than you would find in London or Hong Kong, are competitive. Coupled with cheaper living costs than many key global commercial centres, this affords lawyers and finance professionals a first rate, comfortable lifestyle and fantastic quality of life.
South Africa's appeal as a dynamic emerging market continues to offer an exciting and stimulating destination for relocating professionals. Political stability, improved infrastructure, regulatory reform and being inextricably linked to the continents rapid growth, all contribute to the on-going demand for skilled professionals and specialist legal advice, creating opportunities not seen in many other destinations.