Changes to the UK legal services market is likely to gather pace over the next few years; and this changing market could bring new opportunities and challenges for the solicitor profession, says a recent report by The Law Society of England and Wales. For instance, demand for skilled and qualified solicitors is likely to grow in the in-house and B2B sectors, but employment opportunity in the B2C market could shrink. According to the latest Robert Walters Salary Survey, legal skills shortage will persist in the coming years; and lack of legal experts in financial, corporate, commercial, and real estate sectors will drive salaries up for talented solicitors.
Overall, this is an exciting time to plan your career as a solicitor. However, it is not easy to enter into this profession. You need formal education and vocational training for several years to become a solicitor. Before you start your preparation, here are some important things to know about the specific of this profession.
Job DescriptionA solicitor provides advice to clients on legal matters and, if necessary, represents them in the court. Your duty as a solicitor would be to act in the best interests of your client. From working in-house with an agency to doing private practice or commercial practice, and providing crown prosecution services, you have the flexibility to work in a number of settings; and your clients could be individuals, groups of people, private companies and government organizations. Most successful solicitors have specialization on certain areas of law.
Depending on the settings and your area of specialization, you may need to provide advice on different issues, such as, custody cases, personal injury claims, divorce settlements and buying and selling of properties. Your roles and responsibilities as a solicitor could vary, but usually include;
Meeting clients to know about their legal requirementsTaking instructions from clientsProviding advice on legal mattersPreparing legal documents, contracts and agreementsDoing the necessary research for a caseLiaising with legal professionals and negotiating with clientsRepresenting clients in the courtPerforming administrative duties, such as, tracking time and preparing financial recordsPreparing papers for courtAttending meetings with opponent parties
Educational QualificationGraduates from any discipline can take the necessary training to become a solicitor, but law graduates get some added advantages. If you have a degree in law, you can directly get admission to the Legal Practice Course (LPC). In comparison, candidates with a non-law degree need to complete either the Common Professional Examination (CPE) or the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) to qualify for the Legal Practice Course (LPC) – which focuses mainly on the practice areas of law. It is also possible to enter into this profession without a bachelor’s degree. Non-graduates need to take the CILEx route to qualify as a solicitor. CILEx stands for the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives – a professional body that provides qualification for trainee and practicing chartered legal executives.
You can find out more details about the entry requirements, course contents, and institutions offering LLB, GDL, CPE, and LPC courses on the official website of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
Skills RequiredYou must have patience and determination to be successful in this profession. Graduates need to take vocational training for at least 3-4 years, while non-graduates need more than six years of training to become a solicitor. While being focused and committed, you should have excellent interpersonal skills, analytical skills, verbal and written communication skills, attention to detail and ability to negotiate with others. Some other skills and qualities required to excel in this field include;
Confidence and resilienceRespect for confidentialityCommercial awarenessBasic computer and IT skillsProblem solving skillsCommitment
Career Opportunity and SalarySolicitors can find employment opportunities in various private and government firms. Typical employers include law firms, local governments, central governments, multinational companies and high street firms. Your salary as a solicitor may vary depending on your skills, qualification and experience. Trainee solicitors usually earn anywhere between £18,000 and £20,000 per year, while the annual salary of qualified solicitors could range from £30,000 to £80,000.
If you are a highly motivated person with a desire to build your career in law, this profession could be ideal for you.