If you’re talking to someone at a dinner party and they tell you that they are a solicitor, you will probably be impressed.
We all know that solicitors work in the field of law, and that they need a lot of training, but do you have a detailed understanding of their job, or are you wondering “what does a solicitor actually do”?
There are barristers and solicitors in the UK and the line between the two professions is starting to become somewhat blurry, but there are some clear differentiations.
How is a Solicitor Different from a Barrister?
Well, a solicitor is typically the first point of contact for someone who needs a Reading law firm to help them with a legal issue.
The vast majority of the work that solicitors do is outside of the courts. They may work on cases that end up in court but when the court case happens the solicitor may decide that their client would be better represented by a barrister.
The job of the solicitor is to ensure that their client gets the right advice, and the right kind of legal support for their case.
Solicitors sometimes work alone, and sometimes work as a part of a bigger legal organisation.
They may work on a number of different kinds of cases. Some companies employ a solicitor that works for them and them alone focusing on the legal interests of that one company. Some solicitors specialise in family law, or in corporate law.
Solicitors tend to work from their own offices, although they may visit clients from time to time. They sometimes have support staff such as legal secretaries, but it is not uncommon for a solicitor in a smaller law firm to end up ‘doing it all’.
Solicitors need to have good communication skills, and good attention to detail, because when they do need to communicate with others they need to ensure that their cases are handled well.
Solicitors who do choose to represent their clients in court will be limited to going to the county court or magistrate courts. If a case is taken to one of the higher courts, then the solicitor will bring in a barrister to do the work at that level.
Specialisation as a Solicitor
Law is a huge and complex field, and most solicitors will choose one area to specialise in during their training.
The most common areas of specialisation include wills and probate, employment law, small claims, family law, accident and injury or business law.
Solicitors that are further into their careers or that studied for longer will often pick more than one area of specialisation, and most law firms will have several solicitors, covering all the bases.
This means that they can pass clients on to a specific person who will be able to offer them the best possible service.
In companies where there is a more narrow focus, there is still a high chance that the law firm will be able to recommend another local law firm that has solicitors with the right kind of expertise.
One thing that solicitors have emphasised during their training is that they must comply with a code of conduct, and not misrepresent their skills or take on something that they do not have the knowledge to do well.
Solicitors are tasked with getting the best possible deal for the clients that they work for.
Whether they are representing their client at a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution, attending a hearing in one of the lower courts, or working with a client on a commercial negotiation and drawing up a contract, the solicitor should only take on jobs that they can do well.
Solicitors working in the field of commercial law do a lot of work drawing up contracts, and those contracts need to be well-written and clear.
There may be extensive back and forth between the client, other parties to the contract, and the solicitor, and patience is important at every stage.
Where a solicitor is not familiar with the industry, terms or terminology associated with a specific contract, it is reasonable to expect them to do extensive research – and this forms a part of the fee they charge.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as formal legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article. Specific legal advice should be sort tailored to the individual circumstances in all cases.