CAREER DEVELOPMENT / FEB. 06, 2014
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How to Become a Solicitor

How to Become a Solicitor

If you find yourself in a legal bind, or needed some legal advice, then you will need a Solicitor. So if you are extremely attentive to detail, have an interest in law and want to make some serious money, then this might well be the career for you.

What Do Solicitors Do?

Unlike Barristers, solicitors do not typically spend their time in front of a judge defending their client. Instead, a solicitor is the person who hires a Barrister on behalf of their client. Essentially Solicitors are advisors on aspects of all things legal. Usually, a solicitor will specialise in a certain area such as:

  • Property
  • Tax
  • Finance
  • Employment
  • Patent
  • Corporate
  • Competition
  • Common law
  • Family law
  • Personal injury
  • Immigration and asylum
  • Criminal litigation
  • Clinical negligence
  • Civil and commercial mediation

But usually they will have studied most if not all of them at university. Typical daily activities for a solicitor may include:

  • Meeting with clients and providing expert legal advice.
  • Researching legal precedents, preparing cases and writing legal documents.
  • Attending court proceedings to ensure that a case is proceeding as planned.
  • Supervising the overall defence of a client’s case by instructing Barristers.
  • Negotiating out of court settlements with all parties involved.
  • Writing submissions for law journals and keeping up to date with new legislation.
  • Drawing up legal contracts for clients.
  • Drawing up trademark descriptions.
  • Handling all the legal documentation for a client’s tax affairs.

Salary

It is no secret that lawyers are well paid. So it should come as no surprise that in exchange for lengthy and expensive study, Solicitors earn a lot of money.

Trainee Solicitors

£16,000 outside London - £19,000 within London But can be Higher

Qualified Solicitors

£30,000 +

Senior solicitors

£100,000 +

Of course, really your salary is ultimately determined by geographical location, experience, and talent. Also, just how much the, firm you are working for can afford to pay you, is a major factor.  If you self-employed, then it is also dependent on the amount of work you get and the cost of maintaining your business.

What Qualifications are Needed

Becoming a solicitor takes a lot of patience and hard work. The most basic qualification is a good law degree at least a 2:1 or above. However, you can have a degree in any field and take a law conversion course, which lasts one year full time.

  • Bachelors of Law (3 or 4 years)
  • GDL law conversion course (1 year Full time)
  • LPC Legal Practice Course (1 Year Full time)
  • Training Contract (2 Years Full time training with qualified solicitors)
  • PSC Professional Skills Course is taken during the Training contract (course covers financial, business skills, advocacy, communication, client care and professional standards.)
  • Qualified and are now admitted to the roll of solicitors in England and Wales

Career Development

Once qualified there are many career opportunities available for solicitors. There is no fixed timeline for how fast, or how slowly they may progress from being an assistant, to being a partner. It is all dependent on your performance. If you are bright and bring significant profit to a firm, then it is possible to move quickly up the ranks and perhaps even become a senior associate or partner within eight to ten years. No matter what, you still have to undertake continuous professional development organised by a professional organisation, such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority.  This usually includes seminars and networking events. Further study is also encouraged, in order to further develop your professional knowledge, by taking a diploma or Masters degree in law.

It is a long hard and very expensive road to become a solicitor, however, it can be an extremely interesting career. If on the other hand, you are just interested in the money, then the monetary rewards should prove more than adequate for all the time invested. 

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