Nelson Mandela, Attorney


Nelson Mandela Lawyer

Nelson Mandela update listing

Civil Rights


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Nelson Mandela was the first democratically elected president of South Africa. He served as president from 1994 to 1999. Mandela was also an African nationalist and socialist, and he headed the African National Congress (ANC) from 1991 through 1997. Mandela initially enrolled at the University of Fort Hare to study English, anthropology, politics, law. He then left to complete his bachelor's degree at the University of South Africa.

Following graduation, Mandela began studying law at the University of the Witwatersrand. He also became more politically active during that time, and joined a successful march in 1943 to stop fare increases.

In 1950, Mandela joined the executive committee of the African National Congress (ANC). Later that year, he became president of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL). Mandela advocated for a racially unified South Africa, but met strong opposition from the white majority. In 1952, he was imprisoned for committing statutory communism, which was the South African government's legal response to apartheid opposition.

Following that ordeal, Mandela left politics briefly to resume work in law. He worked for the law firms Terblanche and Briggish, and Helman and Michel, before leaving to start his own practice in 1953. In August of that year, he opened a firm with childhood friend Oliver Tambo. He also continued involvement with the ANC and was involved with the drafting of a Freedom Charter that called for the creation of a democratic state free of racism. Mandela visited Ethiopia in 1962 as the ANC's delegate for the Pan-African Freedom Movement for East, Central and Southern Africa. There he met with global officials advocating for political and social reform. He was arrested following his return to South Africa later that year.  

Mandela used his imprisonment as an opportunity to draw attention to apartheid and racism. In 1963, Mandela and several accomplices were charged with conspiracy to overthrow the government. He was found guilty and initially sentenced to death, but their sentences were reduced to life in prison.

From 1964-1982, Mandela was imprisoned at Robben Island, a prison in South Africa. He continued studying for his LLB degree at the University of London and participated in hunger strikes to improve prison conditions. Prison authorities eventually discovered Mandela's attempt at earning a degree. As punishment, his materials were taken away, and he was not able to resume LLB preparation until 1980.  

In 1982, Mandela was reassigned to Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town, where he joined several senior ANC members. He exercised his freedom to write letters to outside contacts, and sent over 50 a year. During his time in Pollsmoor, which lasted until 1988, Mandela joined the United Democratic Front (UDF). The UDF positioned itself as a multi-racial group that advocated for new equality reforms. Mandela turned 70 in July 1988, which drew international attention and brought more support for his release.

Mandela was transferred to Victor Verster Prison in 1988, and he was released two years later. Mandela had considerably more freedom at his new prison, and used it to receive visitors and expand ANC communications. On house arrest, he finally completed the requirements for an LLB. Mandela met with world leaders in 1991 to curtail apartheid. A peace accord was signed in September of that year.

In 1994, Mandela became president of South Africa. He held office for the next five years, until 1999. During his time in office, Mandela focused heavily on moving towards equality and fostering race relations. He established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was a bipartisan organization designed to investigate and prosecute crimes committed by the South African government and the ANC. Mandela also established domestic programs to combat poverty in black communities. Welfare programs expanded under Mandela's presidency, and more people had access to electricity. Mandela advocated for diplomacy as president, and he drafted a new constitution for South Africa with parliament in in 1996. He resigned as president of the ANC in 1997 and retired as president of South Africa in 1999. Mandela came out of retirement from politics to found the Nelson Mandela Legacy Trust in 2005. He then advocated for South Africa to host the FIFA World Cup in 2010. Mandela died of a chronic lung infection in 2013. He is remembered as a practical politician.
Position Organization Location Duration
School Degree Major Graduation
University of LondonLLB Law School1988  
State / Court Date
  • Nobel Peace Prize
    US Presidential Medal of Freedom
    Soviet Union’s Lenin Peace Prize
    Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights
    Bharat Ratna (1990)
    Nishan-e-Pakistan (1992)
    Ataturk Peace Award (awarded 1992, accepted 1999)
    Order of Canada
    Bailiff Grand Cross, Order of St. John
    Freedom of the City (2004)
    Bronze statue in his honor unveiled on the Day of Reconciliation, 2013
    Mandela Day (commemorative holiday created on July 18, 2009
Sun. Mon. Tue. Wed. Thu. Fri. Sat.


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Nelson Mandela
107 Central St.
Johannesburg, Johannesburg 2198
-26.148535,28.0582494

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107 Central St.
Johannesburg, Johannesburg 2198


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