Careers Advice: How To Become a Solicitor
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
A solicitor will often work long and unsociable hours, including 12-hour days and weekend work.
Solicitors will generally be office based.
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.
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)