Solicitors strive to represent the legal interests of their clients in order to protect their rights and promote their interests. Many solicitors find their work to be interesting, rewarding and pleasantly challenging. If you are interested in becoming a solicitor, read on to find out some tips on how to begin your legal career.
Do Some Research and Reconsider Your Expectations
There are many TV shows that portray legal professionals as well-off individuals who can afford to live the high life. If this is why you are interested in becoming a solicitor, then you should take a little bit more time to understand what being a solicitor is really like. If you have the opportunity, try to arrange work experience with a solicitor, so that you can see what it is really like.
Being a successful solicitor often involves working alone for long hours, and can involve spending hours analysing long documents. Being a solicitor also involves precision and a willingness to follow certain (often slow) legal procedures to achieve your desired outcomes.
What you will need:
Becoming a solicitor requires a lot of hard work, and to be successful in your role you will need a somewhat competitive spirit. Training will also require time, patience and the ability to make initial investments in training.
Training for graduates with a law degree can take 3 years, training for graduates with unrelated degrees can take 4 years, and training for those with other qualifications can take over 6 years. Training loans are available in some cases to help to cover outlay costs of training.
Grants may also be available; however competition for these grants can be exceedingly fierce. If you have already been working in legal practice, they may be prepared to sponsor you through the training process, if they feel that your qualification could benefit the company.
To be successful on any solicitor training course, you will be required to show academic ability, an interest in the subject matter and an aptitude for the work that you will be required to do once fully trained. In the United Kingdom, standard training includes:
Legal Practice Course
The Legal Practice Course (LPC) normally takes people 1 year to complete when taken as a full time option. During the course, you will be taught five essential skills; interviewing; drafting; writing; practical legal research; and advising & advocacy. These are all skills which you will be required to utilise as a qualified lawyer.
You will also cover core knowledge components which you will be required to demonstrate. At this level, you will also be given the chance to pursue a specialism from a wide range of areas. These areas may differ, depending on what is offered by the institution where you are studying, but common options include; intellectual property law; entertainment law; mergers and acquisitions; and family law.
In order to pass the LPC, you must attain a score of at least 50% in all components.
A training contract is the final stage of the qualification to become a solicitor. Working full time, a training contract usually lasts for 2 years. Working under a training contract gives you the opportunity to hone your skills in a real legal practice, whilst giving you access to proper supervision.
Completing the LPC does not necessarily mean that you will be able to find a training contract. Finding a legal office which is willing to take you on with a training contract can often be difficult, so it is important that you are willing to continue pushing.
During your training contract you will get the chance to gain practical experience, but you will also be evaluated regularly, including at least three formal appraisal sessions. You should be paid whilst doing your training contract.
Whilst it is possible to do the LPC part-time, at the same time as working on a training contact, it is standard for Law graduates to take 3 years to complete both stages simultaneously.
Professional Skills Course (PSC)
The final component of training is a professional skills course. These courses usually take less than 3 weeks to complete and they help to build on your professional skills, such as client care, communication skills and business skills.
It may be possible to complete some components by distance learning.