How do I become a solicitor?

What does a solicitor do?

There a two types of qualified lawyer in England and Wales, solicitors and barristers. Both types have different roles and carry out different types of work within the practice of law.

The general position is that solicitors carry out all general legal work except conducting legal proceedings at court. They are the first person you approach when you have a legal problem. However, the distinction is not always so clear these days. Solicitors can attend and act in certain court proceedings, the courts to which solicitors have ‘rights of audience’ (can be heard in court) are generally the lower courts such as the Magistrates Court or the County Court. There is also the opportunity now for qualified solicitors to become Solicitor Advocates after the competition of a further course, this grants Solicitor Advocates rights of audience in the higher courts such as the Crown Court and High Court.  

Solicitors Firms or Practices

Solicitors traditionally work as part of a partnership. A number of the more senior solicitors being the partners who either take a percentage of the profit made or, if they are salaried partners, take a salary from the partnership.

The partners then employee solicitors at various levels to assist with the work carried out, including trainee solicitors.

There are now a number of other ways a solicitors firm can be incorporated but generally the more senior solicitors are still either partners within the firm or referred to as partners or directors with less senior solicitors being referred to as ‘Associates’. The larger firms can have hundreds of solicitors employed in a number of jurisdictions whereas a smaller high street firm can have a sole practioner.

Recent changes even mean that it is possible for solicitors and barristers to work together in multi-disciplinary practices.


It is possible for a solicitor to deal will a number of different types of law within their day to day work. Many high street firms have general practioners who may be drafting a Will in the morning and attending the police station with their accused client in the afternoon.

However, after qualifying as a solicitor it is common to choose an area of specialisation.

This can be a broad area of specialisation such as general company and commercial matters or civil litigation. In the larger firms the solicitors are usually even more specialised to work on a specific area of the law and if a client requires advice on a different aspect of the law this is deal with by another department of the firm.

If you wish to become a solicitor you do not need to decide which area of the law you which to specialise in until you are completing your training contract or on qualification but it is always useful to think about the areas of law you are interested in practicing and look at studying modules in these areas.

How to become a solicitor

The most common first step to becoming a solicitor is studying towards a university degree. This does not have to be a law degree however depending on the degree you choose to study your further studies will differ.  

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