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What is a Solicitor?

A solicitor is a qualified legal professional who provides specialist legal advice on different areas of law and is responsible for representing and defending a client's legal interest.

What does a Solicitor do?

In the UK, the role of a solicitor is to take instructions from clients, including individuals, groups, public sector organisations or private companies, and advise them on necessary courses of legal action.

As a solicitor, you would work closely with clients and are likely to be their first point of contact. The issues that solicitors advise on range from personal issues (such as wills and divorces) to commercial work (such as mergers and acquisitions). Once qualified, you could work in private practice, in-house for commercial or industrial organisations, in local or central government, or in the court service.

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What are the different Solicitors' practice areas?

If you’ve decided you want to become a solicitor, the work you do will depend on a range of factors, including your area of practice. However, your main role will be client liaison and advice.

The 24 different practice areas of law are varied and require different qualifications and skills.

If you want a career in law, but don’t want to be a solicitor, you may want to consider becoming a barrister or paralegal. But, what's the difference between a barrister and a solicitor or lawyer? A barrister is more of an advocate and they represent their clients in court. A solicitor or lawyer does the groundwork in an office or law firm setting.

What qualifications do you need to be a Solicitor?

From September 2021, the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) became the new, centralised assessment for anyone who wants to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales. It will eventually replace the Legal Practice Course (LPC) route to practice.

The SQE is part of a new, four-stage route to becoming a solicitor:

  • A degree (or equivalent) in any subject
  • Pass SQE1 and SQE2 assessments
  • A minimum of two years Qualifying Work Experience (QWE)
  • Show you are of satisfactory character and suitability

A non-law graduate will need to acquire the foundational legal knowledge necessary to start these courses. Most will undertake a conversion course such as our:

You may still be eligible to continue on with the LPC route. To find out what route is right for you, visit our Becoming a Solicitor page.

What skills does a Solicitor need?

  • A professional approach to work, integrity and a respect for confidentiality
  • Problem solving skills
  • Research and analysis skills
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Accuracy and attention to detail
  • Strong negotiating skills
  • Dedication, stamina and resilience
  • Interpersonal skills are needed to work as part of a wider team, as well as with your client and other organisations
  • Time management skills and the ability to plan work and prioritise tasks
  • Commercial awareness and flexibility when dealing with changing circumstances and scenarios
  • Resilience and self-confidence.

How to become a solicitor in England and Wales?

According to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to qualify and practice as a solicitor there are several stages of training:

How to become a solicitor in Northern Ireland?

The Law Society of Northern Ireland regulates solicitors in Northern Ireland. Professional training for solicitors is overseen by the Institute of Professional Legal Studies (IPLS).

These are the three stages of training:

  • Law degree or experience
  • Vocational qualifications: Solicitor’s Course at ILPS
  • In-work training: Apprenticeship

How to become a solicitor in Scotland?

The Law Society of Scotland regulates solicitors in Scotland.

These are the three stages of training:

  • Law degree in Scots Law
  • Vocational qualifications PEAT Diploma in Professional Legal Practice
  • In-work training PEAT

Can you be a solicitor without a degree?

You can become a solicitor without a degree by joining a Legal Apprenticeship programme. You will work in a law firm for six to seven years on a programme that focuses 80% on work and 20% on study and training. Discover more about legal apprenticeships through ULaw.

What is the role of a Solicitor?

A solicitor’s day-to-day responsibilities can be varied and changes from case to case. Daily tasks can include giving legal advice to clients, translating client’s issues into legal terms, researching cases, writing legal documents, general preparing of cases, liaising with other legal professionals.

What is an Associate Solicitor?

An Associate Solicitor is a senior assistant employed by a law firm that helps to handle cases and do day-to-day legal work for their clients as instructed by the partners. The associate can become a partner at a future point in time. 

What is the difference between lawyer and solicitor?

A lawyer and a solicitor are the same terms. A lawyer is a term that describes anyone who is licensed and can provide legal advice or represent clients in court. It includes solicitors, barristers and chartered legal executives. Both terms, lawyers and solicitors, are used interchangeably in the UK but essentially mean the same thing.

How much is a solicitor's salary?

The hard work and long hours reflect the wage and salary for a solicitor. A newly qualified solicitor in a firm outside of the city or smaller commercial practice may expect to earn around £25,000 to £40,000, although some very prestigious and competitive firms are offering as much as up to £150,000. An average solicitor salary in London is anything from £40,000 to £65,000 based on five years’ experience, but as there are many areas of law, this can vary. For those with over ten years' experience, earnings can range from £65,000 to £1,000,000. Those based in London and bigger cities will often earn more too. The potential for earning growth is huge if you choose a career as a solicitor.

How do pro bono lawyers work?

You may use some of your time to give free help to clients who are unable to pay for legal services themselves, which is known as pro bono work. Find out about the pro bono opportunities we provide to our students.

Useful links for future solicitors

  • Sign in to the ULaw Employability Portal and find job opportunities, internships offers that match your criteria along with info on companies that are recruiting: ULaw jobsite (current students)
  • Find info on graduate jobs, postgraduate study, advice about work experience, internship opportunities and careers: Prospects
  • Find Graduate jobs and schemes, Internships and placements, advice to help you get hired, everything you need to start your career: Target Jobs
  • The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) prosecutes criminal cases that have been investigated by the police and other investigative organisations in England and Wales: The Crown Prosecution Service
  • Government lawyers provide legal advice to the government and represent them in court proceedings: Government Legal Profession (formally: Government Legal Service)
  • Search for your next job from over 2000 live vacancies, or upload your CV now and let recruiters find you: Law Society Gazette
  • LawCareers.Net (LCN) is all about law - a comprehensive, one-stop online resource created for future lawyers and those who recruit them: LawCareers.Net
  • Find the latest legal jobs with The Lawyer Jobs - thousands of legal jobs in the UK, Ireland and worldwide: The Lawyer


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