Becoming a solicitor
To become a fully qualified solicitor and practise in England and Wales, you will need to complete the Legal Practice Course (LPC).
The Legal Practice Course (LPC) is part of the required training for qualification as a solicitor of England and Wales, and follows completion of the required academic stage of training. The Programme is taught at Master's level, and its structure and content fully meet the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) requirements.
On completion of the LPC, a training contract must be completed, lasting two years if done full time or four years (on the basis of two and a half days per week) part time.
The training contract stage is a period of practice-based training to obtain practical experience and learn how to apply the skills developed on the LPC. It is most often undertaken in a solicitors' firm although other options are available such as in the in-house legal department of a local authority or company. At least three areas of law will be covered during this time, with the trainee spending a sustained period (usually known as a "seat") on each. Trainees will deal with clients and learn how to handle their own cases but will be closely supervised.
This is an opportunity for a law firm to assess your potential as a solicitor in their firm. What you learn during your training contract will depend on the type of firm in which you train and the solicitors who supervise you.
You will also need to undertake the Professional Skills Course (PSC) in order to fully qualify as a solicitor. The PSC aims to ensure you have gained the appropriate knowledge and skills, and requires the equivalent of 12 days of full-time attendance plus some assessment, and covers advocacy and communication skills, financial and business skills, and client care and professional standards. It will build on material already covered in the LPC.
Applications for a training contract are made directly to the law firms you are interested in applying to
The City Law School understand the importance of obtaining a training contract and provide support to all LPC students via the Training Contract Advisory Service (TCAS), a specialist team of LPC tutors, who will help you with the process of identifying suitable firms and applying to them, as well as providing help and advice on interview skills.
Once these requirements have been fulfilled and certified, you can apply to the Master of the Rolls to be "admitted to the Roll" i.e. join the list of all solicitors of the Supreme Court. This will then allow you to apply for a practising certificate as a solicitor.
The role of the solicitor
Solicitors represent the largest sector in legal employment. In addition to the big national and international firms, there is a wealth of small to medium sized practices, at local, regional and national level. The variety of work will depend on the type of firm you choose to work for, but in general a solicitor will have excellent organisational, interpersonal and communication skills and a flair for problem-solving.
The main working activities of a solicitor include:
- Meeting clients (this may initially involve establishing whether the support or advice wanted can be provided)
- Advising clients on the law and taking instructions
- Drafting and reviewing documents and contracts and analysing information
- Negotiating with clients or others
- Undertaking research to ensure that accurate advice is given and that procedure is followed correctly
- Acting on behalf of clients and sometimes representing them in court
- Instructing barristers to provide representation in court and attending court to sit behind the barrister
- Keeping up to date on changes and developments in the law by reading and attending courses