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Solicitor Lawyer

Solicitors advise clients about the law and act on their behalf in legal matters.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £25,000 to £100,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 to 50 per week

1. Entry requirements

You could get in through an apprenticeship, on-the-job legal training or a degree.

Apprenticeships are available at all levels.

The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) Law School has details of training with law firms while gaining qualifications.

You could apply for one of the Trailblazer apprenticeships. There are 3 kinds that will enable you to qualify as a solicitor, legal executive or paralegal, while working and earning a salary. The Law Society has more information.

If you follow the academic route, you could do a law degree (called an LLB or Bachelor of Laws) then take the Legal Practice Course (LPC).

Another option is to do a non-law degree, then take the Common Professional Examination (CPE) or Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) conversion course followed by the LPC.

You’ll need to complete a period of recognised training while doing the LPC or after it. You’ll also need to take the Professional Skills Course (PSC) at the same time. The Law Society has a number of Getting started guides in the Careers section under Becoming a solicitor.

Before being accepted as a solicitor, you’ll need to undergo pre-admission applicant training run by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. This includes clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • excellent communication skills with people at all levels
  • the ability to understand and interpret complex language
  • research and analysis skills
  • strong ability with figures and IT
  • the ability to manage your time, prioritise and delegate work to others

3. What you'll do

You could work in different areas, including:

Private practice

  • providing legal services like conveyancing, probate, civil and family law, litigation, personal injury and criminal law
  • advising businesses and corporate clients in areas like contract law, tax, employment law and company sales and mergers
  • advising on insurance, patents, shipping, banking, the media or entertainment

Commerce and industry

  • providing in-house legal advice for companies

Local and central government

  • providing advice in areas like education, planning and social services
  • advising government ministers
  • prosecuting people who break rules

Court services

  • working for the Crown Prosecution Service
  • advising the police on prosecutions
  • advising magistrates in local courts

Law centres, charities and the armed forces

  • advising the not-for-profit sector

Depending on your role, you may be:

  • advising and representing clients in court
  • instructing barristers or advocates to act for clients
  • drafting confidential letters and contracts
  • researching legal records and case law
  • attending meetings and negotiations
  • managing finances and preparing papers for court
  • using plain English to explaining complex legal matters to clients
  • keeping up to date with changes in the law

4. Salary

Starter: £25,000 to £40,000

Experienced: £40,000 to £90,000

Highly Experienced: £100,000 or more

Law salaries vary greatly depending on the type of work you do and where you work.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll usually work a minimum of 37 hours a week, but longer hours are common.

You'll work in an office, but could travel to clients and meetings.

If you specialise in criminal law, you'll spend a lot of time in court. You may be on call at weekends and bank holidays and may need to attend police stations at any time of the day or night.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could become a partner in a private practice firm of solicitors. As a commercial solicitor, you could manage an in-house legal department.

As a member of The Law Society, you'll have access to training and events.

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Last updated: 10 April 2017