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Solicitor


Description

Solicitors are the least glamorous members of the law profession. This kind of lawyer doesn't deal with accused murders, and a solicitor won't take down a tobacco company for criminal negligence. However, their work is crucial to society--these are the office work lawyers, who ensure our divorces and adoptions are legal, our business transactions feasible, and our wills and estates are binding and executed properly. This group of lawyers rarely go to trial, and work instead for legal aid services, corporations, patent offices, and in private practices or firms, helping us with the less messy areas of the law. Depending on experience and seniority within a firm, the levels of responsibliity will differ from solicitor to solicitor.

Lawyers of all types have a very important role to play in the judicial system, and their main job is to guide us through the legal mazes, advising and representing us as we go. Overall, lawyers are the people who keep society moving, and ensure that everyone is protected. They explain the laws to their clients, making sure that the law is being used to the advantage of the people they represent.

Solicitors are looking out for their clients' best interests, and use their powers of persuasion and vast knowledge of the law to swing a case their way.
 
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  Interests and Skills  
A solicitor should have a knack for presenting information concisely, and have good negotiation skills. Solicitors need to be computer literate, analytical, and level-headed. They should be calm, able to deal effectively with stress, and to think logically and come up with good solutions on the spot. They should be ethical, moral, believers in the importance of justice, and willing to work hard to see it done. A solicitor needs to be trustworthy, and a sensitive, concise communicator. They should be able to talk with many types of people, and be tactful, firm, and respectful even if during tense and heated arguments. Lawyers must have fantastic memories, and be able to call up details and past events while advising and representing clients.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Draw up legal documents such as real estate transactions, wills, divorces and contracts
  • Perform administrative and management functions
  • Act as executor, trustee or guardian in estate and family law matters
  • Advise clients of their legal rights in different areas of law
  • Plead clients' cases before courts of law, tribunals and boards
  • Negotiate settlements
  • Represent clients at meetings or negotiations
  • Oversee the details of private practice
  • A solicitor has many duties. Every day of work will involve meeting with clients, as well as with other lawyers with whom you are negotiating. An average week will have evenings and weekends off, however, if a case is particularly difficult, you might find yourself working overtime. You may get to travel, but it'll depend on the case you are involved in, but most often work will be done in the office, and, when necessary, in court. This position is challenging, but does not need to involve as much creative thinking and as many persuasive techniques as a trial lawyer. Solicitors instead need to be fluent in the language of law, able to advise clients and present information with ease and confidence.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Solicitors who work for certain companies or organizations may have offices at the company headquarters, but they may work for a number of clients, individuals as well as organizations, they will most likely have their own office, or work in a practice with a number of solicitors.
  • If solicitors work in a practice or firm, they might work for fees or for a cut of the settlement. Regardless, a lawyer will spend many hours drafting briefs, researching cases, and keeping up with the legal profession. The days will be longer if a lawyer has few or no staff to do the research and keep them informed. Solicitors may have to visit work sites to properly assess the businesses they represent, and they may or may not get to travel, depending on the case and their clients' needs.

  Long Term Career Potential  
There are many options for solicitors today. They can start a practice, join an established firm, work for different organizations, or for the government. They may choose to represent businesses, not-for-profit groups, and health and education centers.
A solicitor who chooses to work in a firm might move up the ladder, eventually becoming a senior partner. A solicitor may even branch into criminal law, and start work as a barrister, or trial lawyer. Some solicitors go on to teach, write, or tour as a lecturer, others still might choose to advise producers making courtroom shows for television and film.
 

  Educational Paths  
Aspiring solicitors will need to complete some undergraduate study at a university; just how much depends on the law school they plan on attending. Some programs require only 10 full courses, while some require a full degree. But before an individual can even apply to law school, they must write the LSAT, a test which determines their aptitude. Depending on their LSAT score and university grades, individuals would then be eligible to complete the three year law degree program. Once there, they can specialise in the area of law they want to study and practice, in this case, solicitation.

After graduating from the law program, aspiring solicitors take about a year to complete their apprenticeship, or articling, at a law office or government court house. After this, they have to pass a bar exam to become a licensed lawyer. But that's not all! As part of the articling program, they will have to take a 10-week course called the Professional Legal Training Course or PLTC. And then, and only then, can they start to practice law.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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