Do you want to be a Solicitor? The job can be a rewarding role that challenges your intellect on a regular basis and offers numerous exciting opportunities. As a solicitor, you will have a significant impact on the lives of many people. You will be the client’s first point of contact, listening to their complaints and providing general legal advice. In this blog, we’ll guide you on how to become a solicitor, what are the eligibility criteria, salary and more.
This Blog Includes:
- Solicitor: Definition and Meaning
- Skills Required in a Solicitor
- What Does a Solicitor Do?
- Difference Between Solicitors and Lawyers
- How to Become a Solicitor?
- Solicitors Qualifying Exam: Sep 2023
- Eligibility Criteria
- Salary of Solicitors
- Become a Solicitor: How Long Does it Take?
Solicitor: Definition and Meaning
In the United Kingdom, a solicitor is a member of the legal profession who is qualified to handle legal matters such as conveyancing, wills, and more. A solicitor can advise clients, represent them in lower courts, and instruct barristers to represent them in higher courts in the United Kingdom. Solicitors make up the majority of legal professionals, working in firms advising clients (both individuals and businesses) or in businesses’ legal departments.
Skills Required in a Solicitor
In general, the skills required for a solicitor are as follows:
- The ability to deconstruct, analyse, and articulate complex issues orally and in writing.
- Teamwork is essential for success.
- Think logically.
- Effective communication, both verbally and in writing
- Imagining outside the box
- Solving difficult problems
- Ability to work under duress
- Exhibiting academic excellence
- Commercial consciousness
- A keen sense of detail
If you wish to know how to Become a Solicitor, then you should also know that a good solicitor should also have the following qualities:
- Confidence in your own ability
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What Does a Solicitor Do?
A solicitor’s role is to take instructions from clients, who can be individuals, groups, private companies, or public sector organisations, and advise them on legal actions they can take.
If a legal matter goes to a tribunal or Court, a solicitor can instruct a barrister to act on behalf of a client – a solicitor’s responsibility is to prepare the case for a barrister. Like a barrister, a solicitor advocate with Rights of Audience can represent clients in higher courts.
Solicitors work closely with clients and are frequently the first point of contact for those seeking legal advice. A solicitor’s work can be divided into two categories: contentious legal work (for example, a contentious probate solicitor would investigate contentious probate cases in which the true wishes of a deceased person are questioned) and non-contentious legal work.
Contentious legal work entails resolving disputes between two or more parties and frequently includes appearances before a court or tribunal.
Non-contentious legal work focuses on the legal aspects of a business or personal matter, such as a company merger or the drafting of a will.
A solicitor’s role on a daily basis can vary, involving tasks such as
- Client meetings, interviews, and advice
- Legal document and contract drafting and negotiation
- Providing specialised legal and commercial advice in a variety of areas of the law
- Investigating and interpreting complex legal issues
- Case preparation and instruction for barristers
Difference Between Solicitors and Lawyers
The only distinction between a solicitor and a lawyer is the origin of the terms. ‘Solicitor’ is a British term, whereas ‘lawyer’ is an American term.
In the United Kingdom, the term “lawyer” does not refer to a specific role within the legal system, but rather to anyone who works as a legal practitioner. According to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the regulating body for solicitors, the term “lawyer” has no defined meaning in UK law.
Must Read: How to Become a Lawyer in UK?
How to Become a Solicitor?
The options you may wish to pursue are detailed below.
An A-level student pursuing a career as a solicitor
- Complete three A-levels (Grade C or above)
- Finish a 6-year law apprenticeship
- Qualify as a solicitor
- Complete either:
- LLB law degree (3-4 years) (2:2 (Hons) minimum required); or
- A non-law degree (minimum 2:2 (Hons) required) and a law conversion course (3-4 years). The Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) is the most popular (1-2 years).
- Apply for legal work experiences, such as vacation schemes, open days, and internships.
- Finish the Legal Practice Course (LPC) (1- year)
- Fill out an application for a two-year training contract. You can apply to law firms directly before or after completing the LPC.
- Complete the Professional Skills Course after completing a training contract (during the course of your training contract)
- Qualify as a solicitor
The SQE Route
The current route on how to Become a Solicitor was replaced in September 2021 by the SQE – Solicitors Qualifying Examination. To be eligible, you must:
- Possess a bachelor’s degree (in any subject) or an equivalent qualification (such as a legal apprenticeship)
- Pass both stages of the SQE evaluation (a functioning legal knowledge assessment and a practical legal skills exam)
- Have two years of relevant work experience (which is much more flexible than the training contract)
- Meet the SRA’s requirements for character and suitability
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Solicitors Qualifying Exam: Sep 2023
The Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) is a new way to qualify as a solicitor that will be introduced by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in autumn 2021. The Qualifying Exam is one of the most important steps in How to Become a Solicitor.
According to the SRA’s rules, you must have a degree (or equivalent) before taking the SQE. It is not required to have a law degree (and non-law graduates are not required to have a GDL). Firms of solicitors, on the other hand, are likely to prefer candidates with a law degree or GDL, and our advice would be to obtain a law degree (or, for non-law graduates, a GDL) before beginning the SQE.
One of the requirements for becoming a solicitor is to pass the Solicitors Qualifying Examinations (SQE1 and SQE2). SQE1 assesses “Functioning Legal Knowledge” across a wide range of legal areas. SQE2 assesses the practical legal skills required of a solicitor. SQE1 must be completed before attempting SQE2.
Before taking the SQE assessments, the Solicitors Regulation Authority does not require you to complete any training. However, the SQE assessments are extremely difficult, and taking a preparation course will increase your chances of passing them.
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In the United Kingdom, becoming a solicitor usually requires a degree in Law or a different subject followed by a Law conversion course, a graduate Law degree, or a preparatory course. If you want to know how to Become a Solicitor and how to practice as a solicitor, specific vocational qualifications and on-the-job training are required. England and Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland each have their own legal systems and requirements for becoming a solicitor.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is the governing body for solicitors in England and Wales. It determines the requirements for qualifying and practising as a solicitor. These prerequisites have changed for students beginning their studies in 2022/23.
The training stages are as follows:
- Any degree or qualification at the equivalent level 6
- Passing the Solicitors Qualifying Examinations at both levels (SQE)
- Work experience of two years full-time (or equivalent)
- Passing a final personality and suitability test
There are also work-based qualifications available, such as the Level 7 ‘trailblazer’ solicitor apprenticeship. The training is equivalent to a master’s degree and may result in a degree being awarded. You must also pass the SRA’s new SQE examinations as an apprentice. The employer pays for training, and as an apprentice, you are paid at least the applicable minimum wage, with some firms offering a higher starting salary. Employers advertise available positions as they become available.
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Salary of Solicitors
Trainee lawyers must be paid the national minimum wage. Most employers pay more, but it varies according to the company and location.
Newly qualified solicitors in small to medium-sized firms can expect to earn between £25,000 (INR 25.09 Lakh) and £57,000 (INR 57.21 Lakh) per year, though salaries in London can be much higher.
Those working for large corporations can expect to earn more than £62,000 (INR 62.23 Lakh) per year, and as a partner or head of the department, you could earn more than £100,000 (INR 1.003 Cr) per year.
If you want to be a solicitor, you should know that it’s a very competitive field. A good degree is essential, as is obtaining a training contract, which is similar to an apprenticeship and the final step before qualifying.
Become a Solicitor: How Long Does it Take?
It takes about six years to qualify as a solicitor if you study full-time. This includes a three-year law degree, a one-year LPC, and a two-year training contract with a law firm. If you’ve decided to pursue a non-law degree, you’ll need to add an extra ear because you’ll need to complete the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) course.
To become a solicitor, you could complete a solicitor degree apprenticeship. This path typically takes 5 to 6 years and requires the support of your employer. You must also pass the SQE, have relevant work experience, and meet the character and suitability to practise requirements.
The minimum eligibility criteria for becoming a solicitor under the Bombay Incorporated Law Society are that the person has completed his BL or LLB degree or that he is a student who has completed at least one year of a three-year degree course or at least three years of a five-year degree course. This is one of the most common routes of how to Become a Solicitor.
One of the requirements for becoming a solicitor is to pass the Solicitors Qualifying Examinations (SQE1 and SQE2). SQE1 assesses “Functioning Legal Knowledge” across a wide range of legal areas. SQE2 assesses the practical legal skills required of a solicitor.
This was all about how to become a solicitor. If you want to pursue a career in the UK or anywhere abroad, visit Leverage Edu or book a 30-minute free counselling session with our experts at +91 1800 57 2000 and let them help you through the process.