A solicitor is a legal professional who acts on behalf of individuals, businesses or charities. They provide expert legal advice and representation and may take on casework to represent their clients at court. Solicitors can be found in firms of private practice, as well as working within organisations as an in-house lawyer.
In the UK, most solicitors work in law firms. They may specialise in a particular area of law such as employment, immigration or family. Solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and complaints against them can be made to the Legal Ombudsman.
Most trainee solicitors begin their careers with a law firm, which provides them with on the job training while studying for qualifications. Once qualified, they can become a partner in that firm at some point in their career.
There are also specialist law firms that concentrate on specific areas of the law such as criminal, property/real estate or personal injury. These can be found in large cities such as London and are often very competitive in terms of salary and opportunities for progression.
Solicitors may be employed in-house by organisations such as banks, insurance companies or the government. These are usually permanent positions that offer a good opportunity for progression.
It is possible to qualify as a solicitor without attending university by becoming a member of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives and completing the necessary number of years of practical experience. This qualification is not as rigorous as a degree but is still widely recognised in the UK and around the world.
The legal profession is divided into two branches – solicitors Solicitors London and barristers. Solicitors deal with most of the day-to-day administration of the legal profession and the vast majority of cases are dealt with by them. They are responsible for advising and preparing legal documentation, conducting negotiations and preparing cases for trial. They retain barristers to give them advice on specific matters and to advocate in higher courts.
Barristers are primarily self-employed and operate independently from each other. They have a reputation for their expertise in complex legal disputes and are commonly seen on television in legal dramas. Most barristers are based in an office called a chambers, which they share with other colleagues in a set. They are known as ‘tenants’ of their chambers. This allows them to act on both sides of a legal dispute without any conflicts of interest.
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