First, lets look at the Top 10 Reasons to Become a Solicitor:
1. Salary – Starting with the obvious, one of the largest benefits to becoming a solicitor is the salary you can make. Few other careers will start you out with a salary comparable to that of a solicitor.
2. Fulfilment – As a solicitor, you will get the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of your clients on a daily basis. Not only can you make a difference with your clients, but you have the chance to make a difference in the lives of people everywhere because one case can set the precedence for many future cases.
3. Advancement – After obtaining your degree and getting your license to practice law, you have the opportunity to work your way up to the top at a private practice, where you can eventually become a partner in the firm. You will also have the opportunity to possibly become a judge or an educator.
4. Education – Even if you don’t go back to school for official advanced training, as a solicitor you will constantly be learning. While working on cases, you will be researching past cases as well as learning about obscure laws. There will always be learning opportunities.
5. Variety – Not only do you have a wide variety of specialised areas of practice to choose from, but your daily tasks will vary from day-to-day. Your work life will be changing constantly, making each day different.
6. Job Security and Growth – As long as you do your job well and are a good employee of your firm, your job is secure. No matter the state of the economy, people will always need lawyers.
7. Knowledge of the Law – Not only is your knowledge of the law a benefit to your clients, but it can be a great benefit to yourself as well. Whether creating a will, dealing with a car accident or buying real estate, your knowledge of the law will come in handy. Aside from that, you will find that as a solicitor, your friends and family will come to you for advice about legal or business issues.
8. Networking – While working as a solicitor, you will meet people from all walks of life. While working with clients you will begin to network, expanding your business but also expanding perks in other parts of your life. You may find that you need suggestions for a great restaurant to take your spouse to for your anniversary, and it just so happens that your client has a relative who owns the newest hot spot in town.
9. Mobility – Being a solicitor you will have the ability to work as a solicitor anywhere inside your license to work area. You can work in the city at a large firm for years and then decide to become a lawyer in a small, rural area.
10. Ability to Run a Business – After gaining the appropriate experience working at a firm, you will have the knowledge and the ability to open your own law firm which gives you the ability to set your own hours, take only the cases that interest you the most and will be putting money into your own pockets instead of the partners who own the law firm where you work.
So, what is life like once you have graduated?
Once you have completed your studies and your training, you are ready to step into the world of law with both feet.
You may have been offered a position where you did your training contract, or they may have not had a place for you and you will need to secure employment elsewhere. Whatever the case may be, here is a short summary of how you can and will progress through the roles of a solicitor, should you put your best effort forward:
The Associates Life
Once you qualify and secure employment, you will most expectedly be an assistant or associate solicitor. Simply stated, you are an employee of the firm and will most likely be working under the supervision of a senior associate or partner, making a fixed salary.
Depending on what type of firm you work with, the areas of work in which you practise, the partners that supervise you and your own skills, your duties will vary. Generally speaking, you will need to work hard, taking responsibility for your own clients without regular supervision.
Continuing Your Professional Development
All solicitors are required by The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to update their knowledge and skills on a constant basis. When your training contract ends, your formally assessed training does not.
Under the continuing professional development (CPD) programme, newly qualified solicitors (NQs) must complete one hour of continuing training each month of their first year. After that, solicitors must take 16 hours of continuing educational courses per year.
There are many ways to earn CPD credit, including researching, mentoring, writing on law and attending Law Society-accredited courses. Every solicitor must take Stage One of the SRA management course to fulfil their CPD requirement.
Partnership is the ultimate goal for almost every solicitor. You can become a full partner, in which you own a portion of the firm and share in the profits, or you can become a salaried partner where you do not share in the profits.
How long it will take you to become partner will depend on you and the firm for which you work. In general, you can expect it to take eight or more years to get a partnership with a large commercial firm and possibly less at a smaller firm.
Is Being A Solicitor Right For You?
As you can see by the above list, there are a lot of responsibilities that go along with becoming a solicitor. If you are normally the type of person to shy away from paperwork and research, this may not be an appropriate position for you.
Aside from the many demands that are placed on you as a solicitor, you must also think about the amount of schooling and training that is involved as well as the cost that goes along with that. While being a solicitor is a rewarding career for the right person, it does come at a cost.
If you are considering becoming a solicitor because you feel it would be easy money, you may want to rethink your decision. Being a solicitor comes with a lot of responsibility and the workload can be overwhelming to those who are only in it for the money or the title.
While a lot of people find the work to be rewarding, others find the responsibilities to be more than they had bargained for.
Some conditions to consider when making the decision to become a solicitor are:
• Long working hours: 12 hour days are not uncommon, especially during busy periods. Starting early and working late can happen frequently. Weekend hours may be required on occasion and large City firms can work these extended hours on a regular basis.
• Travel: While the position is mostly office based, you may need to travel to meet clients, attend court, and overnight stays are occasionally necessary. You may also be expected to work overseas, advising local clients on EU law.
• Stress: This can be a very stressful position due to the long hours and workload/responsibilities.
We hope we have given you ample information to be able to get an insight into a solicitors job description, work life balance and the pros and cons of the career.