If you enjoy representing the interests of others and striving to represent the rights of people or the rights of business who need support, then you may be interested in becoming a fully qualified solicitor. Although this type of work can be mentally challenging and may require you to work long hours, many of those who have chosen to become solicitors will be happy to tell you how rewarding and interesting their work can be.
Below is some advice on what you can do if you are thinking about becoming a solicitor.
Talk to an Expert
Many local solicitors are happy to have brief conversations with people about what is expected of them in their role. Talking to an expert will give you the opportunity to consider what being a solicitor is really like, compared to the portrayals of the role that you may see on TV.
If you cannot talk to a local solicitor, go to a law course open day at your nearest university. Although these experts are trying to recruit trainee law students, they will also tell you about the realities of training and practicing as a solicitor, because it is not in their interests to recruit people who will drop out of the course.
Universities are also great places to go for advice, because they will be able to offer the most up-to-date advice about what you will need to do to become a solicitor.
The Standard Route
At present, there are a few different paths that you can take to become a solicitor. All of the paths are time consuming and require dedication and hard work from candidates.
The standard route is that which is taken by students who know that they want to become a solicitor when they are leaving school. These students can either take a law degree or any other type of degree when they attend university. In England, a standard law degree will take 3 years, and once it has been completed successfully, the candidate can begin to take an LPC, (Legal Practice Course). Find out more on that here.
If the candidate has chosen to take a different subject as their first degree, they will be required to do a 1 year law conversion course before they are able to begin the LPC. Alternative routes exist for people who already have experience of working in the legal industry, but these routes are less common, especially amongst younger people.
The LPC normally takes one year to complete when it is taken as a full time course, although some people take this course part time, and work in a law firm as well, to gain legal experience. During the LPC, candidates will learn a range of essential skills which they will be required to utilise as a successful lawyer, including legal research, drafting, interviewing, and advocacy. They will also be required to take core knowledge components to show that they understand the law. Many potential solicitors will choose their specialism during the LPC. The specialisms which are offered can depend on which institution the candidate is studying at, so it is worth considering what special subjects are offered when you are making an application. If a candidate fails to score at least 50% in all components of the course, they will not pass the LPC.
Once a potential solicitor has completed their LPC, they can attempt to secure a training contract with a real law firm. Although these contracts are required before a candidate can become a qualified solicitor, places can be very competitive, and not every graduate is able to secure a contract straight after finishing their LPC.
Training contracts normally last 2 years if a candidate is working on a full time basis, but they are paid positions. Although pay can be as low as minimum wage, most contracts (especially those in London) pay much more. During a training contract, candidates are given the opportunity to improve their skills whilst working under the careful guidance of a practicing lawyer or law firm. Regular evaluation will take place as part of this contract, including three formal appraisal sessions. Once the training contract has been completed successfully, the candidate will be eligible to become a fully qualified solicitor.