If you are interested in becoming a solicitor then finding out what qualifications you need is the first step. It is also extremely important to ask yourself why you want to become a solicitor and examine what kind of personal qualities and experience are necessary for success.
Graduates from England and Wales with a law degree must take the Legal Practice Course or LPC before they can become a solicitor. This commonly takes a year or more if it is done part time. Graduates from other disciplines will need to do a law conversion course before doing the LPC.
Once the LPC is completed you must secure a training contract involving practice based training for approximately two years. There is tough competition for training contracts so resilience and determination are essential personal qualities.
No matter which route you take to become a solicitor you have to be committed and prepared to devote time and money to obtain your goal. When employers are recruiting for training contracts they look for your commitment to a legal career and relevant activities that provide valuable experience. You can try to get work experience through holiday programmes run by law firms and this will help with your future job applications.
Establishing contacts through pro bono work, holiday work, events and by joining student law societies is crucial. By getting involved in the professional world you will give yourself a good head start and you will also make really valuable contacts which could be very important for your future career.
What exactly does it take?
Essential skills that make up a good solicitor include:
- Written and oral communication skills to a high standard
- Perseverance and commitment
- Excellent analytical and research skills
- Commercial experience or knowledge
- Accuracy, attention to detail and numeracy
- Negotiating skills
- Time management and prioritisation skills
- The ability to conduct excellent professional relationships
- Good connection with clients and third parties
- Delegation skills and good leadership
- Being flexible and open to new ideas
- Current IT skills
- Integrity and professional standards
- Discretion and confidentiality
Whether you already have your legal qualifications or are yet to reach the end of your studies you will still need to think about how you can impress potential employers with your own personal skills and qualities. If you have built up a circle of contacts and picked up legal work experience while studying, you should feel confident about approaching potential employers. If you are determined enough to gain a training contract or fully fledged solicitor position then you are sure to do well, especially if you make sure you have done everything possible to put yourself in a strong position as a candidate.
It certainly takes a lot of determination to get ahead in a legal career in the face of a lot of strong competition. If you decide it is the career for you then you need to do your research about the legal profession and try and arrange work experience or holiday programmes.