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Careers Advice: How To Become a Solicitor

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What is a Solicitor?

A solicitor provides expert legal advice and support to clients for a variety of issues, such as property management, business development and compensation.

What does a Solicitor do?

On a day-to-day basis, a solicitor will:

  • Meet with clients and arrange representation

  • Advise a client on the law and legal issues

  • Draft documents, letters and other relevant paperwork

  • Negotiate with clients

  • Research and analysis the law and its consequences

  • Coordinate the work of all parties involved

  • Correspond with clients and other solicitors

  • Attend meetings of negotiating parties

  • Attend court if necessary

  • Calculate damages, compensation allowances etc.

  • Carry out other administrative duties

  • Keep up to date with changes in the law, etc.

Skills & interests required for a Solicitor

A solicitor will need:

  • Excellent communication skills

  • Dedication and commitment

  • Good negotiating skills

  • Knowledge of the law

  • Attention to detail

  • Potential to lead and delegate responsibility

  • Flexibility and openness to new ideas

Working hours

A solicitor will often work long and unsociable hours, including 12-hour days and weekend work.

Work base

Solicitors will generally be office based.

Travel

You may need to travel to meet with clients or attend court.

Salary ranges & earning potential

Starting salaries for qualified solicitors in small firms range from £25,000 to £40,000. Larger firms can offer starting salaries from between £58,000 and £65,000. Experienced partners can earn in excess of £100,000.

Perks & benefits

With the acquirement of experience and legal knowledge, many opportunities for promotion will open. Progress is likely to involve becoming the head of a department within the law firm. You may seek to specialise in a certain area of the law, which may require you to change firm.

Education requirements

Achieving a degree is essential to enter the sector (see below). Once you have a degree you can move on to the Legal Practice Course (LPC), a period of vocational training which will equip you with the skills necessary to become a solicitor. After this you will become a trainee solicitor, during which time you will complete a Professional Skills Course (PSC) in order to be fully qualified.

Useful subjects to study at school & university

Generally, a law degree is the best route to becoming a solicitor. If you have a degree in a subject other than law you must complete a one-year, full-time conversion course, either a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) or the Common Professional Examination (CPE)

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