The LawCareers.Net Handbook 2021

Becoming a solicitor

a ‘seat’ system, in which trainees spend six months in four different departments. This gives trainees exposure to different practice areas so that they can make an informed choice about where they specialise once they qualify. As far as possible, firms will try to accommodate trainees’ seats preferences, although they must consider the overall needs of the firm as well as those of the other trainees. The SRA has guidelines that must also be followed. In some firms, trainees may also have the opportunity to spend a seat in an overseas office or on secondment to a client. Training contracts may be less structured in smaller and high-street firms than those in the larger commercial firms – an approach that might appeal to those who fear a ‘conveyor- belt’ training mentality in the City firms. As many small firms cannot offer detailed training over a wide spread of specialisations, trainees are sometimes permitted to undertake consortium training, fulfilling different training seats in different firms. Content What trainees learn during the training contract will depend on the type of firm. Clearly, the practice areas you learn about as a solicitor working at a commercial firm in the City are going to differ from those learnt by your peers at regional high-street firms. The smaller firms that mainly concentrate on a single area of work will obviously provide the most limited experience, but conversely can offer the most responsibility. Trainees must experience at least three distinct areas of law over the course of their training. Assessment and support Trainee solicitors are assessed continuously throughout their training contract, whichmeans that any problems can be addressed early and are not left until the trainee has qualified.

Solicitors provide legal advice and representation. They work directly with their clients and are usually the first point of contact for anyone seeking legal advice. In general practice, solicitors may be called on to advise on issues ranging from crime, personal injury, contracts and wills to buying houses and taking over a business.

A run-down of various specialisations can be found in “Solicitor practice areas” on p143.

One important thing to note: the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is due to be introduced in 2021. It is a newassessment which all aspiring solicitorsmust pass in order to qualify. Learn more about the SQE in ‘Postgraduate training’ (p110) and ‘The Solicitors Regulation Authority’ (p131), and check LawCareers.Net for the latest information. Currently the most common routes to become a solicitor are to do a law degree, followed by the Legal Practice Course (LPC), followed by a training contract; or a non-law degree, followed by the Graduate Diploma in Law, then the LPC, then a training contract (for more, see “Career timetable” on p13). Training contract/period of recognised training The traditional training contract – or ‘period of recognised training’ – is a two-year period of paid training with a law firm or other approved organisation. Trainees may also study elective LPC modules if they choose to begin the training contract upon completion of the initial core LPC modules. Law firms and other employers have a lot of flexibility over the content of their training contracts, but most are still generally based on the following format. Structure The training contract format varies between firms. Most (although not all) firms operate

Almost without exception, firms have a three and six-monthly appraisal for each training



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