A solicitor is an individual qualified to give legal advice and represent clients in court. Solicitors can help people with bankruptcy, estate planning, filing a lawsuit, getting a loan, and other legal issues.
They may specialize in a particular area of law, such as family law, criminal law, or corporate law.
In this article, we'll discuss the steps you need to take to become a solicitor, career pathways, key responsibilities and essential skills.
How can you become a solicitor?
Bachelor of Laws degree (LLB)
When studying for a Bachelor of Laws degree (LLB) you will learn about a variety of topics that are relevant to becoming a solicitor. These may include contract law, criminal law, and tort law.
Additionally, you will gain important skills such as legal research and writing. This degree can also prepare you for the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) exams, which are required in order to become a solicitor in England and Wales.
Graduate Law Diploma (GDL)
A Graduate Law Diploma (GDL) offers the opportunity to non-law graduates to become solicitors. The GDL is a one-year full-time course, or two years part-time, which provides an accelerated route to qualification as a solicitor. It covers all the key areas of law that you need to know in order to practice as a solicitor.
Legal Practice Course (LPC)
The Legal Practice Course (LPC) is a vocational course, usually completed after the undergraduate degree in law. The LPC can be completed at a number of different institutions, both in the UK and abroad.
Many law firms offer financial assistance to help with tuition fees as a benefit of their training contract. It is important to research all available options before choosing an institution, as the cost of tuition can vary significantly.
Period of Recognised Training
A person must complete a period of recognized training to become a solicitor. This usually involves completing a training contract with a law firm. The length of the training contract is two years.
During this time, the trainee solicitor will gain on-the-job experience in all aspects of legal practice. There is a high level of competition for training contracts, so it is important to start the application process as early as your second year of university.
Qualifying as a solicitor
After you have completed all relevant training, you have to apply to the register of solicitors in England and Wales, also known as the SRA. The SRA will review your application and may ask for additional information.
They will also conduct a character and suitability review. If you meet all of the requirements, the SRA will admit you to the roll.
Solicitor Qualifying Examination (SQE)
Another route you can take to become a solicitor is taking the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).
The SQE is a new qualification that was introduced in September 2021. It will eventually replace the old system of qualifying through a law degree or a law conversion course, therefore, anyone with an undergraduate degree can apply.
The new system consists of two stages: the SQE1 (a knowledge-based assessment) and the SQE2 (a practical legal skills assessment).
The SQE1 is an assessment that tests a solicitor's knowledge of the law. The examination is made up of multiple choice questions and covers a range of topics, including criminal law, contract law and company law.
The SQE1 is a pass/fail assessment and anyone who achieves a mark of 70% or higher can apply for the SQE2.
The SQE2 tests your ability to apply legal knowledge to practical scenarios. It includes tasks such as drafting letters and pleadings, advising clients and conducting legal research.
The assessment is designed to be fair and challenging, so it's important to prepare well for it. The best way to do this is by practising real-life legal tasks and by taking mock exams.
What is the career path of a solicitor?
Law firms can often be found in larger cities, and they usually have a large number of employees. A solicitor working at a law firm handles many different legal matters for their clients.
They may advise on divorce or child custody arrangements, represent their clients in negotiations or court proceedings related to real estate transactions or contract disputes, and draft legal documents such as wills or trusts.
Whilst there are some large law firms that offer in-house services, many businesses choose to hire their own solicitor, often preferring to have someone who is familiar with their company and its operations.
Solicitors working in-house can have a variety of different roles, from providing legal support to their employer to acting as trusted advisors to senior management. In-house solicitors may also be involved in deals and negotiations on behalf of their company.
Most solicitors work in the private sector, but those who work in the public service play an important role in our society. Solicitors working in the public service may provide legal advice to members of the public or represent clients in court. Solicitors may also specialize in areas such as family law, housing law, or immigration law.
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
There are many different roles that solicitors can play when working for non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
One of the most important is providing legal advice and support to the NGO. This can include helping to draft contracts, reviewing policies, and providing guidance on how to handle legal issues.
Solicitors can also help to manage relationships with external legal counsel, and act as a representative for the NGO in legal proceedings. Additionally, solicitors can work to raise awareness of the work of NGOs by giving presentations or writing articles about their work.
What are the key responsibilities of a solicitor?
Solicitors are responsible for a wide range of legal tasks, from providing legal advice to representing their clients in court. Key responsibilities include:
providing legal advice and representation to their clients in civil or criminal proceedings. This may involve organising and reviewing documents, arranging expert witnesses, and liaising with other professionals involved in the case.
supporting their clients during negotiations and settlement discussions. They help to keep the client focused on the objectives of the negotiation and provide guidance throughout the process. preparing cases for court, and presenting evidence on behalf of their clients. This involves reviewing the facts of the case, and gathering any relevant documentation or evidence. They also need to be prepared to cross-examine witnesses, and argue on behalf of their client in front of a judge.
staying up-to-date with current laws and regulations, and advising their clients on any changes that may affect them to ensure that they are making the best possible decisions for their situation. This is an important responsibility, as the law is constantly changing and evolving. drafting legal documents, such as contracts or wills, to ensure that the document is legally binding.
providing expert testimony in court proceedings. Solicitors may be asked to answer a number of questions from the judge or jury. They may be required to give an overview of the case, explain key legal points, or comment on the facts of the case. Additionally, solicitors may be asked to give their opinion on how the case should be resolved.
acting as guardians or trustees to manage the financial affairs of their clients. This may be done when a client is incapacitated and needs someone to manage their finances, or when a client dies and needs someone to distribute their assets. A solicitor is often chosen for this role because they are familiar with the law and can ensure that the estate is distributed in accordance with the will.
Skills every solicitor needs
It is essential that solicitors are able to provide accurate advice to their clients, based on the most recent information available.
When meeting with a solicitor, it is important that they are able to actively listen to what you have to say. This is because the solicitor will need to be able to understand your case and provide you with the best possible advice.
By listening attentively, solicitors can gain a clear understanding of your situation and identify any potential issues early on. Furthermore, active listening can help to build trust between you and your solicitor, which is essential for a successful legal representation.
Solicitors need to be effective communicators in order to best serve their clients. Good communication skills allow solicitors to understand the needs of their clients, relay legal information effectively, and negotiate on behalf of their clients.
Strong communication skills are especially important when dealing with difficult conversations or negotiations. Clients appreciate solicitors who can communicate clearly and effectively, and who are able to resolve conflicts in a way that meets their needs.
When solicitors need to read and interpret complex legal documents, having strong written comprehension skills is essential. In some cases, a solicitor may be the only person who can understand the document’s legal jargon. This can be critical when making decisions that affect their clients’ lives and fortunes.
Good written comprehension skills allow solicitors to quickly and accurately understand the intent of a legal document. This helps them provide sound legal advice to their clients, and avoid any potential misunderstandings. Additionally, strong written comprehension skills help solicitors draft clear and concise legal documents for their clients.
Solicitors need to be critical thinkers because their job is to review evidence and provide an opinion on a case. They also need to be able to think on their feet in order to respond to questioning from the other side.
Critical thinking skills help solicitors stay organized and efficient, while also being able to spot potential problems with a case.
Solicitors are problem-solvers. They are the ones people go to when they need help resolving a legal issue. This means that they need to be able to quickly understand complex legal issues and find solutions that work for their clients. They also need to react effectively and adapt quickly when things change.
Logical reasoning tests are often used by employers to measure candidates’ logical thinking and problem-solving skills. Check out our logical reasoning test to determine your skill level.