Pros and Cons of Becoming a Solicitor
Considering the enticing, yet increasingly competitive career of a solicitor? Are you a naturally ambitious and determined individual?
The work of a solicitor is divided into contentious and non-contentious work. Each year, numerous people are convinced that they would be suited to this intellectually stimulating career in the legal sector, yet many are persuaded for the wrong reasons.
Before you take your next step, here are some important facts you should know.
Becoming a Solicitor: The Pros
The career of a solicitor is one of most respected occupations there are. This is because the job can be incredibly rewarding in terms of career progression; solicitors are involved in almost all aspects of life, which introduces the opportunity to undertake a range of diverse work.
In addition to this, realistically a job that is intellectually challenging while also having many exciting career prospects is rare. However, a career as a solicitor can offer this and the skills they gain are not easily replaceable.
The opportunity to work collaboratively with others is a fundamental advantage to the job of a solicitor. A solicitor will usually work as part of a team with support from not only other colleagues, but also from administrative legal secretaries or paralegals, and distinctively from input of their clients.
Therefore team-work and people skills are crucial to this career and if you find that you are most successful in a team environment, then working for a firm may well be for you.
In contrast to the majority of barristers, who are self-employed and so rely on their own reputation to earn money, solicitors are usually employed in private practice law firms or in-house departments. This means that they have a fixed salary – so if you fancy a little more stability in your earnings, this certainly has its advantages.
What is more, in 2017 the average UK salary was £27,000 per annum. In comparison to this figure, a qualified solicitor’s starting salary in a small-to-medium sized (often commercial) firm can range from £25,000 to £40,000.
However, the starting salaries in larger commercial firms or in a larger City firm – such as in London – can range from £58,000 to £80,000 or more. Partners in large law firms can earn approximately £100,000+.
Solicitor advocates are similar in comparison to the role of barristers, since they are too granted the right to appear on behalf of their clients in court, provided that they have had the advocacy training course required. This means that if you enjoy advocacy but at the same time, aren’t too keen on the instability associated with the Bar, being a solicitor advocate may be the perfect resolution.
Becoming a Solicitor: The Cons
Competitive Job Market
It’s no secret that the legal industry is hugely competitive since the sad reality is that every year there are more law/non-law graduates than there are training contracts on offer.
The training process is criticised by many as not only is it increasingly competitive, but it also causes financial problems for students who are unable to receive it in time. Just to get to the interview stage, you need an excellent academic record and as much relevant work experience as possible to make your CV stand out.
Even if you successfully achieve a training contract, many firms cannot always retain all their qualifying trainees – this is especially common if they are not able to offer you the practice area you wish to specialise in.
Unfortunately, if you are unsuccessful in attaining a training contract, to a certain extent, the money spent on the many years of your legal education is of little to no use.
>> Want to give yourself the best possible chance of success? Take a look at our free guide to Training Contract Applications!
Long Working Hours
It’s important to note that it is hard to generalise or pinpoint a solicitor’s working hours – since this will largely depend on the area of law they practice in, the location and size of their firm, the state of the economy, etc. For example, a solicitor that works in the city while specialising in corporate law will have considerably longer working hours than one that is focused on personal injury or conveyancing.
However, generally they are expected to work as long and hard as it takes to finish their clients’ work. For the sake of estimating numbers, the average working week ranges from 40-50 hours and during busy periods, they may occasionally be expected to work 12-hour days.
Undeniably, the combination of the exhausting working hours and the ever-growing competitive job market leads to high stress. Lawyers cannot afford to take their time with their work since clients need work to be done as quick as possible.
Overall, it is extremely important to know and understand both the advantages and disadvantages associated with becoming a solicitor and while there are reasons against pursuing this career, to an extent, those reasons will be true of any well-respected job.
However, if you are dedicated enough and think you have what it takes, becoming a solicitor is a highly rewarding career.
Page by Tvara Shah