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How qualified is my Solicitor?

Jean Paterson, Solicitor and Director at Astle Paterson Solicitors discusses the often asked question, “How qualified is my Solicitor?”

Jean said “To qualify as a Solicitor involves exams and a substantial training period.   It will take at least three years to train after obtaining a Law degree, at least four years if you have a degree but not in Law, and at least six years if you have not been to University.

The classic path taken by a Solicitor is to go to University to study a Law degree, thereafter to attend University to take the Legal Practice Course and then to undertake a Training Contract at a law firm for two years.

However, University Graduates who have studied another subject as their degree can complete a Graduate Diploma in Law and then attend the Legal Practice Course and undertake a Training Contract.

There are also ways to become a Solicitor without having to attend University – for instance by training to become a Legal Executive and then undertaking the Legal Practice Course or by becoming a legal apprentice.”

Jean continued “Once all of the above qualifications and training have been completed, a Solicitor is then accepted onto the register, known as the Roll of Solicitors, with the Law Society as a qualified Solicitor and the Solicitor can apply for a certificate to confirm that they are able to practise as a Solicitor.  Their practising certificate guarantees that the Solicitor is qualified to practise and has insurance to protect you if anything goes wrong.

If you want to be sure, ask to see the certificate or contact the Solicitors Regulation Authority to check.   Alternatively you can use the Law Society’s online “Find a solicitor” search tool which lists all Solicitors who currently hold a practising certificate.

Once qualified, a Solicitor’s training does not end there.  All Solicitors are obliged to undertake ongoing continuing training throughout the year in order to ensure that they are kept abreast of any updates to the law and good practice.”

Jean continued “Should the Solicitor be in private practice – that is with a firm of Solicitors as opposed to being employed by, say, the local County Council in-house, a Solicitor’s title will almost certainly be that of assistant/associate Solicitor.   This means that they are an employee of the firm, normally working under the supervision of a partner or senior associate.

In general, assistant/associate Solicitor are expected to work hard and take responsibility for their own clients without constant supervision.

When appropriate, associates can become senior associates and then partners or Directors in the firm.”

Jean concluded “At Astle Paterson we have a number of qualified Solicitors with a wealth of experience who can help you in any legal issue – from buying or selling your home, making a Will, assisting you in a divorce or dispute to concluding a business deal.   We are proud that the majority of our work comes from recommendations from existing clients and repeat business.”

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