The word Lawyer is actually an umbrella term used to describe anyone advising clients on legal matters. Both Solicitors and Barristers are classed as Lawyers.
Solicitors will provide expert legal advice and support to clients, this could be individuals, organisations or groups. Normally they will specialise in a specific area such as family, employment, tax, property, finance etc. Businesses use a Solicitors to draft contracts and other legal documents, set up a company, analyse legal documents, liaise with other professionals, deal with employment disputes and generally provide legal advice. Solicitors also provide legal advice to individuals on matters such as buying and selling of houses, writing wills, custody cases and divorce settlements.
Barristers offer legal advice to Solicitors and clients but Solicitors are the first port of call for members of the public requiring advice. If the individual is required to appear in court they may referred to a Barrister who will represent them. Barristers will research and prepare cases, represent clients by putting their case forward in court, cross examine witnesses, negotiate settlements between the client and other parties and liaise with other legal professionals.
University - A law degree would be preferably but you could take a conversion course if you have a degree in another subject. The conversion courses are Graduate Diploma Law or Common Profession Examination. Most employers will want at least a 2:1. Once you have your degree you will need to take the Legal Practice Course (LPC). Entry requirements can vary but you will usually need 3 A levels or equivalent for entry onto the degree course
Apprenticeship - You could do a solicitor degree apprenticeship
This route usually takes around 5 years and you'll need your employer's support to do it.
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths
- 3 A levels or equivalent
Work based route - You could start with a legal firm and do on-the-job training, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives offer a Level 6 Professional Diploma in Law and Practice.
You would then complete a period of further training to qualify as a Solicitor
There are currently three stages to training:
You will need either need a qualifying law degree or an undergraduate degree in another subject followed by the Graduate Diploma in Law. Your degree will almost always need to be at least a 2:1
Once graduated you will need to complete the Bar Professional Training Course, further details can be found from The Bar Council.
This will be followed by a year of practical training with an authorised pupillage training organisation, which will be spent under the supervision of an experienced barrister.
Getting work experience in different settings would be beneficial and can help you stand out from the crowd.
- Excellent communication and negotiation skills
- Commercial awareness
- Good at problem solving
- Accuracy and attention to detail
- Good numeracy and IT skills
- Dedication and commitment
- A professional approach
- Self motivation and self discipline
- responsibility and integrity
- The ability to remain calm under pressure
Solicitor - £25,000 - £100,000
Barrister - Salaries can vary greatly depending on the level of experience, in the first year of qualification a barrister may expect to earn between £12,000 to £90,000. With five years' experience between £50,000 and £200,000 and with over 10 years experience this may range from around £65,000 to over £1 million