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Solicitor Job Description

Written by: Evie Courtier
Published on: 31 Aug 2023

Law

  • Within this Solicitor job description, we will dive into commonly asked questions about the role of a Solicitor, including: ‘what does a Solicitor do?’, and ‘how much does a Solicitor earn?’, discovering the requirements and rewards of Solicitor jobs in further detail.

  • What is a Solicitor?

    A solicitor is a legal professional providing legal advice, guidance, and representation to clients across a variety of legal matters. Solicitors are an integral part of the legal profession, typically specialising in various areas of law, such as family law, criminal law, employment law, property law, or commercial law. Within a Solicitor job, you will work closely with clients to understand their legal needs, provide expert advice, draft legal documents, negotiate on their behalf, and represent them in court if necessary. As a Solicitor, you can also offer mediation and alternative dispute resolution services to help clients resolve conflicts without going to court.

    In the UK legal system, solicitors often work in law firms, either as partners, associates, or in-house counsel for corporations, government agencies, or non-profit organisations. To become a solicitor in the UK, you will require a law degree, followed by the Legal Practice Course (LPC), and then a period of training known as a training contract. Once these requirements are fulfilled, you can apply to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to be admitted as solicitors and join the legal profession.

  • What does a Solicitor do?

    The responsibilities of a Solicitor will depend on the practice area you work in, alongside the size and nature of the organisation. The typical duties will include:

      Providing Legal Advice: Solicitors offer expert legal advice to clients on various legal matters, helping them understand their rights, responsibilities, and potential courses of action.
     Drafting Documents: preparing and drafting legal documents such as contracts, wills, agreements, deeds, and other legal instruments that are essential for various transactions and legal processes.
     Negotiation: engaging in negotiations on behalf of their clients, whether it's for business contracts, settlements in civil cases, or other legal matters requiring effective negotiation skills.
     Client Representation: representing clients in court proceedings, including civil litigation, criminal cases, family law matters, and other legal disputes.
     Legal Research: conducting thorough legal research to analyse relevant laws, regulations, precedents, and legal opinions, ensuring their advice and actions are based on accurate and up-to-date information.
     Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR): as a Solicitor, you can act as mediators or participate in alternative dispute resolution processes to help parties reach mutually agreeable settlements without going to court.

    Further niche duties come into play when looking at specific practice areas, such as Commercial Property.

    Specialising in an area such as Commercial Property Solicitor jobs, will see you work on:

      Due Diligence: in commercial and property transactions, solicitors perform due diligence by investigating and verifying legal, financial, and other relevant aspects to ensure a smooth and legally sound process.
     Real Estate Transactions: handling legal aspects of property transactions, including conveyancing (transferring property ownership), lease agreements, and property disputes.
     Land Use and Zoning: advising clients on local zoning regulations and land use restrictions that may affect the intended use of the property. This can involve obtaining necessary permits or variances.
     Rent Agreements: drafting and negotiating commercial rent agreements for both landlords and tenants. This includes retail, office, industrial, and other types of commercial leasing.

    Family Law Solicitor jobs - as a specialist in family law you will:

      Family Cases: provide legal support in family law cases, including divorce, child custody, adoption, and prenuptial agreements
     Divorce and Separation: assisting clients in initiating divorce or legal separation proceedings, including filing the necessary documents, negotiating settlements, and representing clients in court if necessary.
     Child Custody and Visitation: helping clients establish child custody and visitation arrangements that are in the best interests of the child, and representing clients in custody disputes.
     Adoption and Guardianship: guiding clients through the legal process of adopting a child or establishing legal guardianship, ensuring compliance with adoption laws and regulations.

    Employment Law Solicitor - working as a Solicitor in employment law will expand your duties into the world of:

      Contract Review and Drafting: reviewing, preparing, and negotiating employment contracts, including terms and conditions of employment, non-compete clauses, and confidentiality agreements.
     Wrongful Termination and Unfair Dismissal: advising clients on wrongful termination and unfair dismissal claims, including reviewing dismissal procedures and advocating for employees' rights or employers' defences.
     Discrimination and Harassment Claims: assisting clients in cases of workplace discrimination, harassment, or retaliation based on factors such as age, gender, race, disability, or other protected characteristics.
     Employee Rights: educating clients about their rights as employees, including issues related to wages, working hours, rest breaks, and other entitlements.

  • How to become a Solicitor:

    Working as a Solicitor will require a combination of academic qualifications, vocational training, and practical work experience. The process can be competitive and rigorous, but it is designed to ensure that solicitors are well-prepared, and at the top of their game. We’ve highlighted the general steps to become a solicitor in the UK below:

    Education:

    • Obtain a qualifying law degree (LLB) or a non-law degree followed by a Common Professional Examination (CPE)/Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL). This is the foundational academic qualification for entering the legal profession.

    Legal Practice Course (LPC):

    • After completing your LLB or equivalent, you'll need to complete the LPC, a vocational course that focuses on practical legal skills. It is designed to prepare you for the practical aspects of legal practice.

    Training Contract:

    • Secure a training contract with a law firm or organisation authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to provide training. A training contract is a period of practical training and work experience, typically lasting for two years.
    • Discover our advice for the training contract interviews here, in our article ‘7 of the Most Common Law Training Contract Interview Questions – and How to Answer Them

    Professional Skills Course (PSC):

    • During your training contract, you will need to complete the PSC, which further develops your practical legal skills and knowledge.

    Admission to the Roll:

    • Upon successfully completing the LPC, training contract, and PSC, you can apply to be admitted to the roll of solicitors. This is the official step that allows you to practice as a solicitor.

    Continuing Professional Development (CPD):

    • Once you’ve qualified as a solicitor, you'll need to engage in ongoing professional development to stay updated on legal developments and maintain your skills. It's important to note that the process of becoming a solicitor can vary based on individual circumstances and changes in regulations. Additionally, some law firms may offer training contracts as part of a structured training program, while others may hire solicitors on a more ad hoc basis.

    Throughout your journey to becoming a solicitor, it's essential to stay informed about the requirements and regulations set by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and to seek guidance from legal career advisors, mentors, and professionals in the field. The legal profession is highly competitive, so dedication, hard work, and a strong commitment to ethical and professional standards are crucial for success.

  • What’s the typical Solicitor career path?

    The career path of a Solicitor will depend on practice area, individual aspiration and organisation. However, a typical career path of a Solicitor would look like the following:

     Training Contract: during the training contract, you will gain practical experience in various areas of law while being supervised by qualified solicitors.
     Qualified Solicitor: allowing you to practice as a solicitor and provide legal services to clients.
     Early Career Years: In the first few years of your career, you may work as an associate solicitor, gaining experience and exposure to different types of cases and clients. You will most likely have the opportunity to rotate through different departments within a law firm to further develop your skills and identify your areas of interest.
     Specialisation and Senior Associate Level: as you gain experience, you may choose to specialise in a specific area of law, such as corporate law, family law, employment law, real estate law, or litigation. Becoming a senior associate involves taking on more complex cases, managing junior solicitors, and having greater responsibility within your chosen practice area.
     Promotion to Partner or Equity Partner: some solicitors aspire to become partners in their law firms. This involves a combination of legal expertise, business development, and leadership skills. Partners typically share in the firm's profits and contribute to the firm's management and strategic decisions.
     In-House Counsel: alternatively, you might choose to work as an in-house solicitor for a corporation, nonprofit organisation, government agency, or other entity. In-house counsel provide legal guidance and support to their employer on a wide range of legal issues.
     Judicial or Regulatory Roles: experienced solicitors may pursue roles in the judiciary, becoming magistrates or judges. Others might take up positions in regulatory bodies, where they enforce legal and ethical standards within a specific areas of law and sectors.

  • What’s the difference between a Solicitor and Lawyer?

    The terms "solicitor" and "lawyer" are often used interchangeably, but there are subtle differences between the two. To answer a commonly asked question, we’ve detailed the main distinctions below:

    Definition:

    Solicitor definition: in the context of the legal profession in the United Kingdom and some other common law jurisdictions, a solicitor is a type of lawyer who provides legal advice, prepares legal documents, and represents clients in various legal matters.

    Lawyer definition: the term "lawyer" is a broader and more generic term used to describe anyone who is trained in and practices law. Lawyers can include both solicitors and barristers, as well as other legal professionals like judges, legal consultants, and legal academics.

    Role:

    Solicitor’s role: typically work directly with clients, offering legal advice, drafting legal documents (such as contracts, wills, and agreements), negotiating settlements, and handling legal transactions.

    Lawyer’s role: Lawyers encompass a wide range of legal roles and responsibilities, from providing legal advice and representation in court to legal research, policy work, and academic teaching.

    Representation in Court:

    Solicitor’s representation in court: in the UK, solicitors can represent clients in lower-level courts, such as magistrates' courts, county courts, and employment tribunals. For more complex matters or cases in higher courts, they may work with barristers who specialise in advocacy.

    Lawyer’s representation in court: Lawyers who specialise in courtroom advocacy are often referred to as barristers (in the UK) or trial lawyers (in the US and other jurisdictions). Barristers are self employed, typically focus on presenting cases in court, cross-examining witnesses, and arguing legal points. They often work in collaboration with solicitors.

    Training:

    Solicitor’s legal training: aspiring solicitors in the UK undergo specific educational and training pathways, including completing a qualifying law degree, the Legal Practice Course (LPC), a training contract, and the Professional Skills Course (PSC).

    Lawyer legal training: the term "lawyer" does not imply a specific training path. Different countries have varying requirements and educational pathways for becoming a lawyer. In some jurisdictions, lawyers might follow a law school program followed by a bar exam to become licensed practitioners.

  • How much does a Solicitor earn?

    According to our latest Salary Survey, Solicitor’s earn around £55,873 on average per annum. This statistic will naturally adhere to factors such as location, type of organisation and practice area. Upon reaching a senior level, Solicitor jobs can see you earn an attractive six-figure salary.

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