Solicitors provide legal advice and legal services. These are very wide ranging and most solicitors specialise in a particular area of law. These include:
- Private Client Services: this includes drafting wills, administering peoples estates after their death (probate) and helping plan their inheritance tax, which could include setting up trusts.
- Family & Matrimonial Law: this includes divorce and separation, which includes negotiating financial settlements as well as child contact arrangements. Other aspects of children may be adoption, or childcare proceedings. Family lawyers will also deal with domestic abuse, obtaining injunctions and cohabitee disputes.
- Employment: this involves representing either an employer or an employee. The solicitor maybe advising the employee about discrimination, redundancy rights, unfair dismissal or other contractual agreements. Alternatively they be advising the employer about the same things either on a particular case or in general to ensure their policies and hand books are in order.
- Litigation or Dispute Resolution: this is when somebody sues someone else. The solicitor may be representing either party, which could be an individual or a business. Many of these cases end up in court. When businesses are concerned they can be very complex. There are alternative methods of dispute resolution, and solicitors can specialise again to offer these mediation services.
- Personal Injury: solicitors specialising in this area deal with every type of injury where the person wants to claim from another who they believe to be responsible for their injury. This will include accidents or injury at work, serious accidents, sexual and physical abuse claims, road traffic accidents, sports injuries, clinical and medical negligence, poisoning, military claims etc.
- Criminal Law: These solicitors provide advice and representation to those facing criminal or professional misconduct proceedings and investigations. They assist at both the police station and in court. Some are solicitor advocates, which means they are qualified to represent clients in the high court. They work with murderers, rapists, thieves, road traffic offenders, fraudsters etc. Some solicitors specialise further in areas such as fraud & financial crime, cartels/illegal pricing, computer & internet crime, corruption & bribery, FSA investigations, insider dealing, international crime, money laundering and tax investigations to name a few.
- Property Law: these are solicitors that focus on conveyancing for residential and commercial property. This involves the purchase and sale of property, as well all aspects of law relating to landlord and tenant such as commercial leases.
- Business Law: solicitors who specialise in providing legal advice for businesses. This can be very broad and solicitors tend to specialise in different areas or industries. This may be construction & Infrastructure, environmental, banking and financial regulation, technology & IP, energy, media & entertainment, charities and shipping to name a few. Corporate Lawyers will offer advice and guidance on mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, equity transactions and commercial contracts, partnerships & insolvency.
How to become a solicitor
- You can study a law degree or a non law degree at university
- If you have studied a law degree, you then need to go on to take a one year Legal Practice Course (LPC)
- If you have studied a non-law degree, you first need to study for either the Common Professional Examination (CPE) or the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), a one-year course and then take another year to study for the LPC.
- You then require a training contract with a solicitors practice. The training contract period is for two years although it can be reduced by up to six months if you have suitable and relevant previous legal experience. Law students should start applying for training contracts during the final term of the second year of their law degree. Non-law students should apply before starting the Common Professional Examination/Graduate Diploma in Law.
- Passing the Professional Skills Course (PSC) is the final stage to becoming qualified as a solicitor. Law graduates, and non-law graduates who have completed the Common Professional Examination or a Graduate Diploma in Law, attend the PSC during the course of the training contract. The PSC requires the equivalent of 12 days of full-time attendance, building on the vocational training provided in the Legal Practice Course.
- Upon successful completion of the above qualification stages you are deemed able to seek admission to the Roll of Solicitors and apply for your first practising certificate.