What is a Solicitor? What Does a Solicitor Do?
If you’re on this page you may be considering a career in law and are thinking about which route you want to follow. So what exactly is a solicitor and what does a solicitor do? You’ll need to know the role inside out before making your decision.
What is a Solicitor?
A solicitor is a qualified legal practitioner responsible for preparing legal documentation, representing and/or defending a client’s legal interests. As a solicitor, you’ll provide specialist legal advice on a variety of areas of law, acting directly for a variety of clients including:
- Small businesses
- Large national and international organisations
What Does a Solicitor Do?
Broadly, a solicitor’s work falls into the following types of legal work:
Contentious legal work is sometimes referred to as ‘litigious work.’ It involves resolving disputes between two or more parties, usually in a court or tribunal setting or via ‘alternative dispute resolution’ means such as arbitration or mediation.
Non-contentious legal work is sometimes referred to as ‘non-litigious work.’ This type of work aims to deal with a client’s personal or business needs from a legal perspective.
- Buying and selling commercial and residential property
- Buying and selling companies
- Dealing with company mergers
- Advising on design and build construction projects
What Does a Solicitor Do on a Day-to-Day Basis?
Daily activities of a solicitor include:
- Attending meetings with clients
- Drafting and negotiating legal documents and contracts
- Providing specialist legal and commercial advice on a variety of areas of law
- Interviewing and advising clients
- Researching and interpreting complex points of law with the requisite rights of audience, appear and speak on behalf of clients in court
How are Solicitors Employed?
There are two main ways in which solicitors are employed:
1. In a Law Firm
Most employees will start their legal career in a law firm setting. This involves training and qualifying at a law firm and then specialising in one of many areas of law.
‘In-house’ essentially means being employed to practice law in a commercial setting. Many large organisations, such as the BBC, Government Legal Service (GLS) and Virgin Media have in-house legal departments. Some companies (e.g. the BBC and GLS) even offer opportunities to complete an in-house training contract. But more often than not solicitors tend to start their working life in a law firm and then move ‘in-house’ once they have built up some relevant industry-specific experience.
To find out more about working in-house, read our case studies:
Who Regulates the Profession?
The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the UK organisation that regulates solicitors, law firms and non-legal professionals in law firms. The SRA sets a code of conduct with principles that solicitors have to abide by regarding their clients and the public’s interest. If solicitors or firms are found to be in breach of any of these principles, the regulatory body can step in and take action. Find out more on the SRA’s website.
Salaries for this role vary greatly depending on:
- Your chosen practice area
- Whether you work for a law firm or ‘in-house’
- Office size and location (posts in London tend to pay more)
- Level of experience
Read about specific salaries on our solicitor salaries page.
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