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Solicitor: job description

Solicitor: job description

Solicitors act on behalf of and give legal advice to private and commercial clients.
Once qualified, promotional prospects are excellent. Most solicitors become partners within six to eight years.

What does a solicitor do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Solicitors who work with commercial clients often specialise in one legal area such as litigation, property or tax. Private client work usually involves minor legal matters such as writing wills, property conveyancing, custody cases, divorce settlements and so on.

Typical duties include:

  • giving legal advice
  • researching cases
  • writing legal documents
  • liaising with other professionals such as barristers
  • representing clients in court.

It is a responsible and trustworthy job which necessitates integrity, confidentiality and a non-prejudicial manner.

Typical employers of solicitors

  • private practice firms
  • crown prosecution service
  • legal departments within large organizations.

There is strong competition for vacancies. Penultimate year placements are popular, so early and speculative applications are advisable. Training contracts are advertised in careers services and specialist directories such as Chambers and Partners, TARGETjobs Law, the Law Society's Regional Directories and the Training Contract Handbook.

Vacancies for qualified legal professionals appear in national newspapers, Legal Week, The Lawyer and Law Society Gazette. Law fairs are a useful source of contacts and further information.

Qualifications and training required

Graduates from any academic background can train as a solicitor, but should have an excellent record of academic achievement, including good A level results. Qualification is via the postgraduate legal practice course (LPC). Graduates without a law degree must also pass the common professional examination (CPE).

Following qualification, it is necessary to undertake a two year Law Society-approved training contract. At all stages early applications are essential: some firms arrange training contracts up to two years in advance.

There are entry restrictions regarding criminal records. Relevant experience can be of benefit, particularly for mature candidates.

Key skills for solicitors

  • motivation
  • commercial awareness
  • good interpersonal skills
  • written and oral communication skills
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