Through the month of October, Gradlinc has been showcasing the legal industry. This week, we caught up with Rikus Stander, an attorney who owns his own firm in Pretoria who has quite the story.
Rikus was born in Witbank and later moved to Benoni with his family. After he matriculated, Rikus wanted to study law. To assist his family with paying for his tuition, he joined the Corpse Royal Engineers which is an army regiment in England. While serving in the army, he enrolled at UNISA to study law. Rikus was in the army for five years and travelled the world extensively during that time.
Not only did he serve in the army and study, but he also joined the army’s rugby team and was a boxer for them too. He received awards for being the best shot during his regiment training and fondly spoke of all his adventures he had during that time and the friends he made, which he keeps in touch with till today. He admits that the time in the army was difficult but humbling. The greatest lesson which he learned was that in the army, all people were equal, their background, the schools that they went to, their family circumstances, did not matter, all that mattered was doing what you were told, staying alive and being disciplined.
Rikus has always been passionate about law, growing up with a father who was a criminal defence attorney, and a stepfather, who is a professor at UNISA, specialising in sentencing procedure. Naturally, when Rikus began his own practice, his passion was criminal law and has specialised in this field. Asides from the passion, Rikus realised that there was a market for specialist criminal defence attorneys in the east of Pretoria. He seized this opportunity and has built a reputation for himself as one of the best criminal defence attorneys in Pretoria. Rikus firmly believes that all individuals have the right to good representation and derives great pleasure in seeing fair process being successful.
When we asked Rikus what advice he had for law students who hope to become attorneys one day, he said that students must remember to always keep things simple. During studying, students receive a myriad of information, and it can be overwhelming. Students should be logical in their approach to their studies and constantly try and see how the various subjects tie into one another.
He also strongly encouraged graduates seeking their articles to rather do two years articles as opposed to one because it is always better to receive more practical experience, not only because it assists with the law school exams, but also because it builds confidence and knowledge for consulting with clients. When we asked Rikus what career he would have pursued had he not ended up in law, he joked and said that in an ideal world, he could be a lawyer by day and a professional boxer by night.