Information on being a Solicitor / Lawyer

Solicitors are highly trained, qualified individuals who advise on or undertake directly on legal matters. This can include the conducting of proceedings in courts.
 
An individual can choose to become a solicitor or a barrister according to the nature of the work they wish to undertake once qualified. In most cases a degree (typically a 2.1 or better from a well regarded university) is often a pre-requisite.

To become a solicitor registered by the Law Society to practice in England and Wales, most people join a law firm after graduating and undertake a training contract (typically 2 years in length during which they gain experience in different areas of Law training 'seats'), as part of which they undertake the Graduate Diploma in Law (to the extent that their degree is non law) and the Legal Practice Course (LPC). Larger corporate organisations may also be registered to offer training contracts.

Once qualified as a solicitor, individuals may choose to remain in private practice, where they can provide legal support and advice to clients, who vary from individuals or organisations. Typically at this stage solicitors choose to specialise and will from a particular area of law, where they then provide expert advice. Full service law firms will have solicitors who can give advice across all main areas e.g.

  • Corporate/corporate finance
  • Baking finance
  • Commercial litigation/ dispute resolution
  • Employment/pension
  • Property
  • Commercial
  • Private client
  • Intellectual property
  • Competition

Niche/ boutique  law firms may specialise in one or two areas only.

Qualified solicitors can also move out of private practice firms and into corporates, where they work as in-house lawyers, directly undertaking legal work themselves and in some matters, instructing solicitors in law firms.

According to the University of Oxford: "There are around 145,000 qualified solicitors in England and Wales , with about 115,000 holding practising certificates. At present the majority (74%) of solicitors work in private practice firms owned and managed by the partners".

Lawyers with qualifications from overseas jurisdiction can also in many cases, become duel qualified and join the solicitors role in England and Wales. In order to achieve them they must first establish their eligibility to sit the QLTS qualification (Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme)   by applying to the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA). Depending on the jurisdiction in which they are qualified and their experience to date they may have to sit one of more examinations in specific subjects. Having passed the relevant QLTS 'leeds' they then become eligible for admission in England and Wales
For more information on Solicitors regulations please visit:

www.lawsociety.org.uk  Law Society  
www.sra.org.uk  Solicitors Regulation Authority

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