Working as a lawyer requires hard work and perseverance. You must be able to think on your feet, communicate confidently and posses sound negotiation skills. Working in the legal profession can be highly rewarding, and you will earn great money. So, whether you have just finished high school or are have decided on a career change, here is some information that will prepare you for your career in law.
No matter what country you plan to practise law in, you must complete a law degree. In most countries, the academic stage of training takes around five years. Studying for law involves a lot of research, reading and writing. You should be prepared to read long and complicated cases and write analytical essays. You will look be encouraged to look at the law in an inquisitive way, and you must be able to apply the law correctly to any given situation.
You will need to pass certain compulsory courses. Towards the end of your academic career in law, you will be encouraged to select areas of law that interest you the most, to study in-depth. It is important that you think carefully when choosing such subjects as they may dictate where you carry out your traineeship.
After completing your undergraduate degree, you will need to secure a place on a legal practise course. This course provides you with the practical skills required to be a lawyer. On the course, you can expect to be split up into ‘firms’ with other students, and you will be given mock cases and clients to deal with.
Once you have completed the undergraduate degree and gained the legal practice certificate, you will need to secure a training contract. You should choose a reputable law firm, like Mark Reynolds, and make sure the firm specialises in your favoured subject. You should start to contact law firms well in advance of graduating as the competition for places is fierce.
The training contract lasts two years. During the course of the traineeship, you will be placed in different ‘seats’ which will allow you to experience many different aspects of the profession. Within the two years, you may gain experience in commercial law, employment law or property law. Trainee solicitors in the UK earn a minimum of £16.5K per year. In reality starting salaries are a lot higher than this.
During the contract, you will be required to pass the Professional Skills Course. This course requires twelve days of vocational training on professional standards and communication skills.
When the contract comes to an end, the law firm may ask you to stay on as a permanent employee. Whether you are kept on depends on financial reasons and whether you have impressed your colleagues.
Once you have completed your training contract you can seek admission to the Roll of Solicitors and apply for your practising certificate.
Salaries for qualified solicitors can range from £25,000 to £75,000. Partners in large firms can earn in excess of £100,000.
As a qualified lawyer, you must be prepared to work long hours and occasional weekends. Solicitors are usually office based, however, you may be required to meet clients and go to court.