What is a solicitor?
Most people only see their solicitor when something goes wrong, so they’re a bit like doctors. However, rather than giving you medication, they offer you advice and guidance.
Most of the people generally termed ‘lawyers’ are solicitors. There are many different types of solicitor and there are loads of areas of law you can specialise in.
Solicitors also provide advice to people so they can be protected from potentially sticky situations. If you pursue a career in this subsector, you can expect long hours, many years of training and above average salaries.
What do solicitors handle?
Solicitors play an important role in many aspects of daily life, as we often need their advice to make informed decisions or to ensure that we are protected against changes in circumstances.
A solicitor will give general advice and is the first point of contact for their clients. If the matter is escalated to court, then a barrister may get involved and the solicitor will liaise between them and the client.
You need to be able to take real-life situations, apply the law to them and decide, based on your judgment and experience, what the best course of action may be. You may be defending a client, for instance, and someone may suggest that he or she has breached a contract or broken a law. Alternatively, you may be working to ensure that your client is protected from future events which are yet to (or may never) materialise.
What qualifications do I need to be a solicitor?
All solicitors will have experience in seven areas of law, as required by the law society. These are: criminal law, tort law, equity and trusts, land law, constitutional/administrative law, EU law, and contract law. Additionally, there is a whole series of other areas that you can get into, ranging from human rights to corporate finance.
Upon qualification, you would usually work within a firm of solicitors, either in a high street, national or international outfit. However, there are various other organisations that you can work for as well, ranging from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Government Legal Service (GLS) to legal aid organisations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Am I suited for life as a solicitor?
Solicitors will usually work on each case from the beginning to the end, and will get involved with the filing of a case, investigation, taking witness statements, going through reports, liaising with the courts, other parties, the police, clients and probation officers, filing pleas and motions before the presiding court, and conducting the eventual trial, unless a barrister is instructed in this matter. Phew!
Being a solicitor takes a lot of hard work, and is often rather lonely. You will need to have sustained motivation for several years and although you will be working closely with other people, you will also need to have the ability to work alone.
However, if you prefer the finer details and working directly with clients in an office, and you have the ability to relay complex issues in a comprehensible manner, then the solicitor route may be for you. Get a head start now by applying for a graduate job or even just some work experience.
If you’d like to keep on reading, our sister site AllAboutLaw has even more information on the soliciting life.