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Insight into Solicitor training

27th October 2015

Insight into solicitor training

Training to become a solicitor in the UK requires huge commitment over several years and is why solicitor training in the UK is regarded so highly across the world.

However, it recently came out that there are proposed changes to solicitor training in the offing, which has caused concerns amongst many city law firms.

With this in mind we take a look at what it takes to become a solicitor in today’s environment.

University degree

After taking GCSEs and A-levels, budding solicitors and lawyers often undertake a law degree at university.

For many, a law degree is the first step along the path to a career in the legal industry and as this type of degree is notoriously challenging it is one of the most sought-after and widely respected courses to study at university.

Most universities offer a Bachelor of Laws, a BA or BSc law degree and the average full-time law degree often lasts for three years.

Virtually all law degrees cover criminal law, contract law, tort law, property law, equity and trusts as part of their courses. There are law degrees that focus on particular areas of law, for example, criminal law.

law degree

During the three years of studying, law students will have to write essays on a range of legal topics and will be asked to sit exams on a variety of topics within law.

Check out the What Uni website to find out what they say about law degrees and why studying law is so great.

Training contract

After completing a Legal Practice Course, trainees in England and Wales then move to the final stage of their qualification, a recognised period of training.

Now graduates work as a trainee solicitor for two years at a legal firm that has been authorised to take trainees. During this period trainees will get practical training on approximately three areas of English and Welsh law.

This full-time work consists of a range of activities that fully-qualified solicitors do, such as meeting clients and handling cases.

During this period of time trainee solicitors will be supervised by another solicitor at the firm and work will be checked and reviewed.

Trainee solicitors will have to take a Professional Skills Course, which focuses on client care and professional standards, financial and business skills as well as advocacy and communication skills. Trainees can also select other modules that focus on specific areas of law, depending on what sector of the law they want to focus on.

Apply to the Roll of Solicitors

After passing your exams and conducting your training budding solicitors can now apply for admission to the Roll of Solicitors in England and Wales.

After this trainees have officially qualified and can now practice as a fully-qualified solicitor. At this stage solicitors decide to continue their progress at the firm they have been training at or decide to take up another in-house legal role at another firm.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority

After becoming a fully-qualified solicitor, the training does not stop there as The Solicitors Regulation Authority run a continuing professional development scheme that is compulsory to attend.

The scheme means that solicitors must attend training seminars, networking events and a number of conferences.

Legal conferences

The Law Society run a number of these networking events that see solicitors meet up to discuss a number of relevant and timely legal topics. The Law Society also have more information about becoming a solicitor here.

So what do the potential solicitor training changes mean?

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) recently revealed that they were considering changes to its training, one of which was scrapping the two-year training contract that solicitors have to complete.

The supervised practical placement that solicitors in the UK have to complete is different from training in other countries like the US. In the USA solicitors can become an associate lawyer after graduating from their law school and the SRA are now considering standardising training.

Image Credit: EmiliaUngur, klbradt (flickr.com), EDHAR.