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Centre for Environmental Rights – Advancing Environmental Rights in South Africa

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Candidate Attorney 2020-2021

Reference No: 6/2019

The closing date (31 January 2020) has passed and applications for this position are now closed.

The Centre for Environmental Rights is now calling for applications for one candidate attorney for 2020, commencing articles on 1 March 2020 (or earlier, if possible). We are looking for a bright law graduate from an historically disadvantaged group who has a special interest in and passion for the environment and environmental justice, and using the law to realise environmental rights.


Cape Town

Qualifications, skills and experience

  • An LLB or equivalent qualification. Although this is not a requirement, an LLM in environmental law is a relevant consideration for us.
  • Demonstrable writing and analytical skills, good presentation skills, and attention to detail.
  • Computer literacy and excellent legal research skills.
  • A commitment to high-quality client service.
  • A passion for social and environmental justice.

Key responsibilities

  • Supporting the provision of advice to and the representation of communities and civil society organisations in strategic public interest environmental litigation. This includes conducting legal research, as well as writing, sorting and filing pleadings, motions, briefs, and other court documents, and attending court and other hearings.
  • Researching, writing and presenting submissions on draft environmental policies and legislation, and preparing correspondence and other documents in support of the Centre’s advocacy and engagement work.
  • Organising, attending, preparing for and presenting at meetings, workshops and training sessions for activists from communities and civil society organisations.
  • Attending, taking minutes, and presenting at meetings of government departments, Portfolio Committees, corporates, and industry associations.
  • Assisting in achieving the deliverables and reporting on those deliverables as set out in terms of the Centre’s funding agreements, and assisting with reporting to the Board and funders, as required.
  • Assisting with the recording and sharing of learning for systemic change, as well as monitoring performance against indicators.
  • Generally supporting the Centre’s attorneys and the effective operation of the Centre’s programmes.


The Centre benchmarks its salaries for the public interest law sector. The salary offered for the first year of articles will be R249 312 per annum (total cost to company), or R20 776 per month before deductions.

Working for the CER

The Centre for Environmental Rights is a non-profit organisation and law clinic of environmental rights lawyers that helps communities defend their right to a healthy environment. We do this by advocating and litigating for transparency, accountability, and compliance with environmental laws.

As South Africa’s largest public interest environmental law organisation, we use our expertise and commitment to fight for environmental justice and advance the right to a healthy environment for all. We take on the big environmental battles: cases in which we can empower local communities, have an enduring impact, set powerful precedents for other cases, and help improve policy and practice across the country.

Winning the legal case is only part of the battle. CER’s litigation work is strengthened by local empowerment, dedicated policy and advocacy work, and strategic communications. In all of our work, we work closely with partners in affected communities, with other civil society organisations in the environmental and social justice sector, and with other public interest law organisations.

We work across the following core themes: Mining, Water, Pollution and Climate Change, and Corporate Accountability & Transparency. We have our main office in Observatory, Cape Town, with a smaller office currently based at the Centre for Applied Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

At CER, we value our staff and regard their well-being as a priority. We are committed to a work environment that is inclusive and empathetic, and in which diversity is celebrated and supported.

We are committed to contributing to the legal profession by training competent, ethical attorneys who will strive to deliver the best, most professional service to their clients. For this reason, we require our CAs to complete two years of articles with us, even if you have already successfully completed the School for Legal Practice. If you have not, we will facilitate and fund your attendance of the necessary training.

We involve our CAs in all aspects of CER’s work – including training, research, advocacy, and litigation. Our CAs are an essential part of our programme teams, and an important part of the bigger CER team – you will get as much responsibility as you are willing and able to handle.

We do our best to expose our CAs to as many aspects of legal practice as possible, but it is important to understand that we specialise in environmental law – and environmental public interest law, in particular. For this reason, we regularly arrange short secondments for our CAs to law clinics specialising in other fields.

How to apply

Please read the following instructions before applying for articles at the Centre for Environmental Rights.

We retain the right not to consider applications that fail to comply with these requirements.

All applications must have your name and the vacancy reference number in the email subject line.

All applications must include the following, preferably in a single PDF document:

  • A cover letter (1-2 pages) explaining why you are interested in doing your articles at the Centre. Please also include a motivation why you think you have the right qualifications, skills and experience for the particular position. Generalised covering letters that do not engage with the Centre’s activities and purpose will not be considered.
  • A curriculum vitae (3-5 pages), that also lists at least three references with updated contact details.
  • At least one written letter of reference, not more than 6 months old.
  • Certified copies of academic transcripts for all tertiary qualifications.
  • A certified copy of the photo page of your identity document, or – if you are not a South African citizen – a certified copy of the photo page of your passport, and of your valid work permit.

We reserve the right not to appoint if suitable candidates are not found.

All applications for this position must be sent to [email protected]. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted, and may be required to complete a written assessment and an interview.