A career as a solicitor is different from that as a barrister in numerous ways. For example, solicitors generally have a salary. Barristers do not, meaning that as a barrister your earnings depend on instructions you get from chambers and directly, as well as the type of cases you get. As a barrister you pay rent to chambers for your desk or room, depending on what you can afford; and as a solicitor, you do not. On the other hand, as a barrister, you do not have to be in chambers, for example 9-5, but can plan your own hours. You also do not have a line manager/boss.
Generally (but gradually changing), as a solicitors, those who need legal services are your clients; as a barrister, solicitors are your clients, and sometimes direct access clients. Following changes on how legal services are provided, solicitors increasingly appear in court on behalf of their clients, and barristers increasingly receive instructions directly from those needing legal services. Most solicitors are employed by a partnership while others are employed by bodies such as government departments, court services or even charities. An increasing number of solicitors are now found within alternative business structures, which allow firms to be run by non-lawyers and allow external investment. Law firms range from the smaller ones found on high streets with only a few solicitors, to very large international organisations with thousands of employees. As such, the work carried out by solicitors also varies enormously, ranging from conveyancing and drawing up wills, to advising companies on formations and takeovers.
The common path to becoming a solicitor is: 1) you need to complete a law degree or the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL); 2) you complete the Legal Professional Course (LPC); 3) you then complete a two-year period of training (training contract) with a solicitors’ firm. The format of the training contract varies between firms but usually involves spending six months in four different departments, before qualifying as a full solicitor. See a guide to training contract deadlines here: http://www.allaboutcareers.com/campaigns/training-contract-deadlines. For detailed report on how to join a Magic Circle law firm click here.
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