11 January 2014

How to be a solicitor

Everything you need to know about becoming a solicitor

How to be a solicitor

Are you interested in law? Have you ever wondered what a solicitor actually does? I know I have… so I spoke to solicitor Leah to find out.

Hello Leah! What is your job?

I'm a solicitor.

What does your job entail?

I advise people who have had a legal claim brought against them. I specialise in personal injury and social care claims.

What’s a typical day at work?

I handle several different claims at one time, so may work on several cases in one day. I might speak to a client on the phone, including talking through what might happen if their claim goes to trial. I draft witness statements and take part in telephone hearings, which is a court hearing with the judge and solicitor/ barrister for the other side on a conference call. I also research legal issues and background information on cases.

What’s the best thing about your job?

It’s really varied! A lot of the job involves working with people such as clients, solicitors, judges and witnesses. It’s a good mix between office work and working with people.

What’s the worst thing about your job?

I have to record all my time in 6 minute units, so I know how much time I’ve spent on each case and can bill each client appropriately. I need to know what I’ve done each 6 minutes I’m at work!

What did you do at school?

For my A Levels I did Welsh, English, French, Drama and Maths (AS).

Then what did you do?

I always wanted to be a barrister. I did a Law degree at Warwick University and then did a year on the Bar Vocational Course at Nottingham Law School. From there I worked as a self-employed lawyer representing people in the civil courts, before going on to work at a solicitors’ firm to get the experience I needed to cross-qualify as a solicitor. I also took two exams in accounting and ethics before becoming a fully qualified solicitor.

Did you do any work other experience?

I did work experience at barristers’ chambers (known as ‘pupillages’).

What advice would you give to anyone who was interested in doing what you do?

Work experience at a solicitor’s is a good way to find out whether or not you like it. Don’t necessarily do a law degree because you think you should. Study a subject you’re interested in, you can always do a law conversion course afterwards. It's also good to have interests outside law. Firms want to employ people who have interests outside work and can relate to the people they’ll be working for and with.

What’s the biggest misconception about your job?

That I spend my time filling in forms. I haven’t filled in a form yet. And sorry to say it’s also not very like Legally Blonde…!

If I wasn’t doing this I’d love to be...

An opera singer.

Thaaaaaaaannnnnkkkkk yooooooooooooou Leaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh … (sung in our best opera voice).

If you’re interested in doing a job like Leah’s she recommends sitting in the public gallery of a courtroom if you have some spare time. Anyone can go and it’ll give you an insight into how it all works in practice. 

Here at Whatever after we recommend watching Legally Blonde… we now know it’s not really like that, but we can still dream.


Leah was interviewed by Isla Gray


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