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What is the difference between a lawyer and a solicitor?

It’s important to plan your career journey. Firstly, it’s important to understand all the job titles and see which roles interest you the most. With this in mind, we're looking at a question that many potential law students have: What's the difference between a lawyer and a solicitor?

Lawyer

A lawyer is a licensed legal professional who can provide legal advice or represent clients in court. They are qualified to offer legal advice in multiple areas of law. The term ‘lawyer’ encompasses solicitors, barristers, and legal executives. While all these professions are lawyers, not all lawyers are qualified for these jobs.

 

Benefits of being a lawyer

Choosing to becoming a lawyer is the pathway to a rewarding career. It is no secret that qualifying as a lawyer will offer high financial rewards. Lawyers can earn a lucrative income and are listed as having (on average) the ninth highest salary in the UK in 2022. Furthermore, one of the benefits of becoming a lawyer is that it opens doors to a wide selection of career options in both private and public sectors. To become a lawyer also means a shorter amount of time studying. Most people begin their training by completing an undergraduate degree in law that normally takes three to four years to complete.

 

Solicitor

Solicitors form the largest part of the legal profession and deal directly with clients. Around three quarters of solicitors work in law firms (known as private practice) and others are employed by companies, charities and the government (known as working in-house). The work mostly consists of two main areas: contentious (litigation) and non-contentious (transactional).

 

Are there any benefits to becoming a solicitor?

There are benefits of qualifying as a solicitor are huge. Similar to becoming a lawyer, there are several areas of law that a qualified solicitor can work in, such as real estate or mergers and acquisitions. Furthermore, as solicitors offer expert and tailored advice to their clients, the salaries are often higher than that of someone with a basic law degree. An average solicitor salary in London is anything from £40,000 to £65,000 based on five years’ experience, but this can vary. For those with over ten years’ experience, earnings can range from £65,000 to £1,000,000. The potential for earning growth is huge if you choose a career as a solicitor.

 

How do I become a lawyer vs a solicitor?

Becoming a lawyer via the undergraduate university route requires you to complete an LLB. This is equivalent to a BA or BSc. With this in hand, you can go on to train in a further field, such as studying to become a solicitor or barrister.

You can also become a lawyer without a degree by completing a legal apprenticeship. 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.

Once qualified as a lawyer, you need to continue your education to become a solicitor in the UK.

You can study either of the following routes to practice:

You could also study our M Law as an undergraduate. This is the most direct route to qualify as a solicitor as an undergrad, as it includes both SQE1 and SQE2 Preparation courses.

 

Take your first steps into a legal career by studying the LLB with us.