- How do you become a solicitor?
- What qualifications do you need?
- How long does it take to qualify?
- Do I have to go to law school?
These are just some of the questions our team of legal experts are often asked from people considering a career in law. So, we’ve decided to compile the answers to these FAQs in one handy resource.
What is a Solicitor?
A solicitor is a legal professional who has qualified to provide and prepare legal documentation to represent and/or defend their client’s legal interests.
There are many areas of law a solicitor can choose to specialise in. For example, at Howells Solicitors, our solicitors provide legal services for individuals and business clients, in the following areas.
- Residential conveyancing
- Family law
- Wills, probate and asset management
- Personal injury
- Employee law
- Medical negligence
- Commercial conveyancing
- Employment law
- Landlord and tenant law
- Business affairs
- Sports law
You can loosely group the work undertaken by a solicitor into two categories:
Contentious – The solicitor will be aiming to resolve a dispute between two or more parties. This type of work can be referred to as ‘litigious’ and will often be settled either via the court system, a tribunal or via arbitration or mediation.
Non-Contentious – As the title suggests, non-contentious work deals with ensuring the law has been correctly adhered to in situations, such as the purchase of a house or commercial property, the writing of a will or buying and selling a company.
What Qualifications Do You Need to Become a Solicitor?
Many of our solicitors decided to embark on a career in law whilst they were still in school. Like many other professional services, a strong set of academic qualifications at both GCSE and A level will certainly be of benefit to you.
Studying a law degree (LLB) at university is the start for many on their journey that can take up to six years to becoming a solicitor.
Your first stage will be as an undergraduate, and you will need to complete the qualifying law degree, which will take three years.
Once completed, you will then need to apply for the Legal Practice Course (LPC): a one year post graduate training programme, which will provide you with the vocational skills to become a solicitor.
Training Contracts in Law Firms
The next step in the process to becoming a solicitor will involve seeking employment in a law firm to gain experience, as well as applying for a training contract within the business.
A law firm will normally designate a set number of places each year for training contracts. There is a lot of competition for these places as this is the final stage of the qualifying process to become a solicitor.
A training contract will take two years to complete and in this time the trainee solicitor will spend time in different departments of the law firm (known as ‘seats’) to continue their learning on actual cases under the guidance and observation of senior, experienced members of the department.
Once completed, the long journey to becoming a solicitor is complete and you can proudly start your career as a qualified solicitor.
Alternative Routes to Qualify as a Legal Professional
There are alternative routes to qualifying to work in the legal profession, including training to become a Legal Executive or a Paralegal and combining this with external work-based learning courses whilst in employment.
Sophie joined Howells in 2015 after graduating with a law degree from the University of Glamorgan. Initially working in our conveyancing department as a legal assistant, Sophie’s talent for law was recognised by her peers in the company and she was invited to apply for a training contract after two years.
As part of her training contract, Sophie spent time honing her legal skills and gaining experience whilst in ‘seats’ in the conveyancing, employment law, family law and commercial department.
After successfully completing her training contract, Sophie qualified as a solicitor last year and now has her own conveyancing team in our Cardiff office, working on behalf of house buyers and sellers across the UK.
Commenting on her journey to qualifying, Sophie said:
“Whilst still in school, I made the decision that I wanted a career in law, so I applied to study law at University. Although it was hard work and intense, I thoroughly enjoyed the law degree and LPC and was delighted to be offered the role as a Legal Assistant in Howells.
“I learned as much as possible from the senior solicitors I was working with and applied for a training contract as soon as I could. The training contract was a steep learning curve for me and provided me with a valuable insight into different areas of law and direct access to clients.
“When I completed the training contract I was offered my first role as a qualified solicitor and chose to return to the conveyancing department where I have been able to build my own team and pass on the experience and skills I have learned to others starting out in their legal careers.”
Read more: Congratulations Sophie – Our Newly Qualified Solicitor
Would You Like to Work for Howells Solicitors?
We are always very keen to hear from individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in the legal industry. Furthermore, not every role within the industry requires professional qualifications. We advertise each role we are currently recruiting for on our website recruitment section. So, take a look and get in touch.