In the United Kingdom, the word “Solicitor” refers to one of the occupations which fall under the umbrella term of “Lawyer”. Most Lawyers are either classified as a “barrister” or a “solicitor”, however in the past 25 years; the distinction between the two professions has slowly eroded, with barristers taking on many solicitor tasks and vice versa.
Traditionally, Barristers would be employed by solicitors to act as representatives once a case reached the courts, however solicitors now regularly take care of their own advocacy when cases are appearing in lower courts. Both of the occupations which can be classified as “lawyers” require years of formal, professional training.
Training and Qualification
Solicitors are professionals who have undergone years of legal training in order to be able to provide up-to-date legal advice, guidance and support to their clients. Most solicitors regularly attend further training sessions and top-up training sessions, so that they can keep abreast of changing legislation which may affect their clients. This helps them to provide their clients with accurate legal advice which is relevant to the situation in question.
In general, solicitors need to complete their training in the jurisdiction where they intend to practice, because the legal systems in England & Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are all slightly different from one another. However, for those solicitors who do wish to move between these jurisprudences, it is possible to do a conversion course.
Whilst it is not necessary for solicitors to specialise, many choose to adopt a specialism, so that they can work more effectively on cases in specific sectors. Although some people who work in the legal industry have not had full legal training, proper solicitors require accreditation in order to practice, and they must act in accordance with regulations that have been laid down by a central regulatory body.
What Roles do Solicitors Take?
Solicitors can work to represent individuals, groups or companies. They tend to work directly with their clients, and deal with the majority of the paperwork (sometimes with the help of a legal secretary) associated with each client’s case. Even if they do not read all of the paperwork themselves, they are expected to have an extensive knowledge of the content of all of the documentation relating to each case and each client.
They are often required to spend a long time working with individuals or organisations to help to establish all of the facts of a case and to uncover any information which may be relevant to the outcome of the case. Although solicitors are able to represent their clients in civil courts or for low level criminal cases, a solicitor is traditionally expected to hire a barrister to represent the client if the case ever reached high court. A barrister would normally then proceed to work with the solicitors to form the case, rather than working directly with the client. In these instances, a team of solicitors would be required to have a high level of knowledge of the case, so as to keep the barrister fully informed.
As well as spending time working with their clients, solicitors are also required to liaise with third-party representatives or opposing parties, so as to achieve the best possible outcome for the client. This may involve tense negotiation processes designed to secure pre-agreed objectives. Using the facts of the cases as presented to them, solicitors are able to calculate claims, expenses and compensation which their client may be eligible for.
What Types of Work can Solicitors be used for?
Solicitors work on a wide range of cases, from civil law to some aspects of criminal law. This can include; family law (such as child custody and divorce cases), wills and probate, personal injury cases such as work accident claims, administration of estates, legal contracts, employment law, financial issues and small claims. If you do not know what type of solicitor you need to represent you, it is often possible to discuss your initial needs with a legal specialist or administrative assistant at a legal firm, who will be able to point you towards the best possible professional to help you with your needs. For all of these cases, solicitors are expected to treat clients and potential clients with respect and professional courtesy.
Different Types of Solicitors
Law is a very wide reaching subject, and therefore it is unusual to expect solicitors to have extensive knowledge of all aspects of the law. For this reason, many solicitors choose to specialise in one or more aspects of the law.
There are many different specialisms available for solicitors in the United Kingdom, so if you have a particular problem that you need to see a solicitor about, it is best to choose one that represents your needs. Here is some further information about some of the most common types of solicitors:
Personal Injury Solicitors
Personal Injury solicitors aim to help clients who have been hurt in an accident or incident that was not their fault. Injuries can range from minor ones to incidents which cause death. Accidents can also leave people in pain, with high medical bills, and unable to achieve their full earning potential due to lasting problems.
Personal injury lawyers aim to secure their clients the compensation that they deserve, whilst also helping to promote better practice in certain areas to prevent similar accidents from happening to others.
Family Law Solicitors
Family Law solicitors specialise in areas of the law that relate to family life. This includes matters such as matrimonial agreements, divorce proceedings, child support arrangements and child custody.
Family law specialists must be skilled at conflict resolution and have strong negotiating abilities, so that they are able to secure a fair resolution for their clients and any dependants of their clients.
Immigration solicitors aim to promote the interests of their clients, when their clients are dealing with immigration, migration laws and asylum laws. These services are not only relevant for people who are aiming to legally migrate to the UK, but they are also useful for people from the United Kingdom who are seeking to emigrate to other countries.
Immigration lawyers can help clients to get all of the documentation necessary and fill out all the paperwork properly which is required by those seeking to take up residency in a new country.
Employment solicitors can represent either employers or employees. They are able to provide employers with guidance to ensure that their actions are taken within the scope of the law, and they are able to offer assistance to employees who feel that their rights have been infringed by the actions of an employer.
Potential cases could include; unfair dismissal; discrimination in the workplace; salary issues; dangerous working conditions; recruitment and retention issues, and other employment policies. Employment lawyers can act as mediation experts in any of these scenarios.
Wills and Probate
Solicitors who specialise in wills and probate have a high level of expertise about how to deal with the estate and assets of a deceased person. As well as helping clients to create a last will and testament, they also help to administer estates following the death of that person. In some case, when an undisputed will has been created before the death of that person, dividing the estate is simply done according to their last will and testament. However, in many circumstances, it is not as clear cut as this, and solicitors have to help to administer that person’s estate using the law as a guide.
Conveyancing solicitors specialise in transactions relating to property, such as laws relating to selling and buying a house or flat, transfer of deeds, and clients concerns regarding mortgages.
A conveyancing solicitor should help their client to understand their rights and responsibilities in relation to the property in question, and they will make sure that everything is being conducted according to the law, so that nothing will cause problems later on. They can also represent their clients if there are any disputes about property sales etc.
Commercial solicitors mainly focus on aspects of the law which relate directly to commercial businesses. This can be quite a wide specialism, as there are many different laws which affect the ways that businesses operate.
Amongst other things, commercial lawyers help to settle disputes, negotiate mergers and create legal documentation which is required by a company. Commercial solicitors often work in teams to ensure that all of the needs of their larger clients are taken care of.