Thinking about a career in legal? Or becoming a solicitor or barrister? This guide should be able to help.
If you are thinking about becoming a solicitor or barrister there a few things that you need to consider. The legal system in England and Wales does not always clearly define the differences between the two roles, however you need to research just what skills are needed for each, as they are very different indeed.
Deciding on which career path is best for you is a big decision, and it is therefore essential that you take your time and get to understand exactly what each roles offers, but what each role will require of you. Academically you may be the perfect fit to become a solicitor, but personally you may have the skills that more closely match those of a barrister. Again, it is important for you to take your time and research both careers paths as thoroughly as you can before you decide. This is a decision that you will live with for the rest of your career.
Think about what each role entails. For example; if you do not like speaking in public, but you have a good head for numbers and minutiae then you may be better suited in a solicitor’s role. As the barrister represents their clients in tribunals and courts of law, speaking in public is something that you will have to do on a regular basis. You may be intimated by senior officials, or the pressure of defending or prosecuting someone, it all happens in front of a room for a people. You need to be confident and comfortable.
If you choose to become a barrister you need to understand that you will not have the same support network around you as a solicitor does. It tends to be quite an isolated role outside of court rooms and tribunals, and you work alone on a regular basis. As you work alone, you have to be able to work on your own initiative and manage your own cases and workloads on a daily basis. Solicitors are quite the opposite, as they tend to have a greater support network, with research associates, paralegals, administrative staff and secretaries all being able to help with your workload, as well as providing a more social element to the role.
One of the final, and most important, differences between the two roles is that a solicitors’ work can cover the whole legal process, as well as sourcing work and cases from a number of areas of expertise. With this much range and area to cover, solicitors tend to specialise in an area of law which they feel they are most strongest in, like Gullands. For example, you can become a solicitor that focuses on commercial work that could range from employment contracts, mergers and acquisitions, as well as pension schemes and tender bids. Barristers tend come in to the process when something has gone wrong, or they are hired to give another opinion on a argued or difficult point which may be open to interpretation.
After reading about the key skills, and the differences between the roles, you need to ask yourself one question: which is more me.