Brief Definition of a Solicitor
Functioning much like a lawyer, a solicitor basically helps out clients who have been arrested and helps them to pass through the justice system of their country's laws
. They also represent other clients such as businessmen or athletes and even celebrities to guide them through contracts and negotiations much like a transactional lawyer does. They can also work for and represent whole organizations that are either private or public. If you find that you're interested in this career, then read on for the steps on how to become a solicitor.
Not much different than an attorney, the first thing you'll need is to have your academic requirements in place. This means you must complete and have a law degree. Or you could just do some of the following; take the CPE (Common Professional Examination) or the GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law), or be qualified as a member of the ILEX (Institute of Legal Executives). It's important though to know that in order to get that degree in law, you must have very outstanding grades in five GSCE (A - C) and 2 to 3 A levels so it's recommended that you check out the requirements for entry first.
The next step on your path to becoming a solicitor is to take the Legal Practice Course (LPC). It is the final stage of the basic academic trials before you can proceed to the actual practice (or training) of the law. The course teaches you how to become a real solicitor in the fields you choose (for example as a divorce solicitor or as a litigator). Anyone who wishes to take the course must enroll as students into the Law Society. It is a demanding course that rigorously trains you into applying what you've learned so you can easily adapt after you've graduated. In short, you should expect the course to treat you like you were handling actual cases (and in real-time too). Generally, the course lasts about nine months but has fewer holidays compared to undergraduate courses.
The Training Contract
After you're done with all the basic academic requirements, the next stage of the path to becoming a solicitor is the two-year training contract. This is the part wherein you can actually get to practice all the stuff you have learned in school. Although this is still technically just training, it's still very competitive and it can be very intimidating. This is where the attorney and the solicitor differ. Where there is actual real-time physical training during education for the solicitor, the lawyer
has none (though there is the matter of internships). Training can be done either in private practice (which is where the majority of the training is), or you could start training in central or local government. There are others wherein you can train such as the Crown Prosecution Service, Commerce and Industry, and the Magistrates Court Service. Just keep in mind that it's a good idea for students to begin application of training contracts during the second year of their studies as an undergraduate.
The Professional Skills Course (PSC) is the final trial that one must take in order to be accredited as a real solicitor. Normally, you take the PSC during the training contract. The course may be offered by local law societies, local firms, or teaching institutions. The core modules it offers are 2 days' worth of professional standards and client care, 3 days' worth of communication skills and advocacy, and 3 days' worth of business and financial skills.
The road to becoming a solicitor can be quite daunting and at times difficult due to the fierce competitiveness that the training contracts can bring about. Lawyers might find this complex blend of physical and mental training quite a challenge (if not amusing), but the path to becoming a solicitor is hard. Still, in the end, it's definitely fulfilling.
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