What does a solicitor do?
Solicitors advise people about the law – they advise both individuals and businesses. Solicitors who give legal advice to businesses are known as commercial solicitors.
As well as giving advice, solicitors also act on behalf of clients, for example representing them in court.
Many solicitors specialise in a particular legal area such as:
Even within these areas, there are many niches and a solicitor may specialise even further. For example, within employment law, a solicitor may specialise in an area such as:
- Health and safety
What kind of work does a solicitor do on a day-to day basis?
Working as a solicitor, you’re likely to be involved in the following types of work:
- Giving information and advice on legal issues
- Representing clients
- Briefing a barrister to represent a client in court
- Putting together legal documentation such as contracts, letters and reports
- Conducting research into legal matters
- Preparing court papers
Training and qualifications
To be able to practise as a solicitor, you’ll need both academic and vocational training.
Both law degrees and non-law degrees are acceptable. If you gain a degree in a subject other than law you’ll need to complete a conversion course afterwards – you’ll need to take either a Common Professional Examination (CPE) or get a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL).
Next, you’ll need to take a Legal Practice Course (LPC). These courses take one year full-time or can be done over two years part-time.
You’ll also need to undertake two years training with a law firm and pass a Professional Skills Course.
Being a solicitor means you’ll need to undertake regular CPD (continuing professional development) courses to keep your skills and knowledge up to date.
Are you unsure about whether being a solicitor is the right career for you? The following skills and attributes are useful in such a role:
- An analytical mind
- A naturally inquisitive nature
- Excellent communication skills and the ability to communicate well with a wide range of people
- Problem-solving abilities
- Good organisation
- Diplomacy and tact
- The ability to work well under pressure
Jobs exist for solicitors in small private practices and larger firms, and the opportunities will depend, to some extent, on your area of law. Some solicitors are self-employed. They may work alone, from home, or more commonly with other self-employed solicitors.
Solicitors may also be employed on an in-house basis by large companies or a government department, for example.
Solicitors are most likely to work from an office most of the time, rather than being in court and will spend a lot of time dealing directly with clients.
As a trainee solicitor you can expect to earn between £12,000 and £20,000, whilst a qualified solicitor can expect a salary of between £20,000 and £50,000+. For some partners or solicitors working for large firms or private companies, this figure can be higher.