Career as a Solicitor

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Simon Smith is a solicitor with a practice which specialises in trade union issues such as employment law and personal injury claims.

As a solicitor, what do you do?

I work in the employment rights unit on equality matters and help people who have been unfairly treated at work or have been dismissed because of disability, racial, religious or sex discrimination.

For instance, I recently represented a man whose employer had sacked him because they said he wasn't able to do his job. The real reason, though, was that the man was disabled and the employer hadn't made the adjustments they should have.

How do you put a compensation claim together?

The first thing is to look at the evidence and make a judgement about whether the client is likely to win or not. This means getting documents from the employer, witness statements and, sometimes, medical evidence. I then have to see whether the employer has broken any laws and decide whether we can prove this with the evidence we have and advise my client.

What's a typical day?

I have a list of tasks to do in my diary, but things also come up during the day – perhaps some new information to follow up. I chase up documents from employers, ensure claims have been sent to the employer on time, write letters and read through all the evidence I collect. I might also talk to clients or witnesses. If there's a tribunal, I'll meet the client before the hearing and talk through what happens to reassure them.

What skills do you need for a career as a Solicitor?

Communication skills and the ability to analyse a lot of information. Before you even take on a case, you have to look at the facts and the evidence and make a judgement about how best to help the client. Sometimes, this means advising them not to pursue the claim because they may have a small chance of winning. This can be hard when the client is upset and has got very involved in their claim.

Simon's route to his career as a solicitor

  • A levels.
  • Degree in law.
  • Legal practice exams while working for the National Assembly of Wales.
  • Two-years' solicitor training.

Simon's solicitor tip

  • As well as getting good grades, it's a good idea to find out if you're really interested in this sort of work by spending some time with a law firm.

Solicitor related jobs

  • Barrister/advocate
  • Court clerk
  • Legal executive
  • European Commission official
  • Probation officer
  • Welfare rights officer/worker

Salary of a Solicitorn

  • A trainee might start on around £10,500 to £18,000 with a qualified solicitor working in a small town practice earning between £24,000 and £45,000.
  • A salaried partner in a small firm might earn between £38,000 and £80,000 - rising to more than £100,000 for a partner in a large firm or head of an in-house legal department.

Career as a Solicitor

  • A qualifying law degree. This is the quickest and most common route.
  • A non-law degree. Students with a second class degree take a common professional examination (CPE) or a postgraduate diploma in law or a senior status law degree.
  • Fellowship of the Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX).

Modified: 16 June 2013

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