Legal Professions

Qualifications & Training

There are 3 stages to becoming a barrister. These stages are:

·         Academic stage: This consists of an undergraduate degree in law, or undergraduate degree in any other subject at the minimum of a 2ii. If you choose the route of an undergraduate degree in a subject other than Law you must complete a one year conversion course (CPE). 

·         Vocational Stage: In this stage a person must join one of the Inns of Court: Lincoln’s Inn, Inner Temple, Middle Temple and Gray’s Inn. The purpose of this is to ensure that students intending to become barristers acquire the skills, knowledge of procedure and evidence, attitudes and competence to prepare them, in particular, for the more specialised training in the twelve months of pupillage. The full-time Bar Vocational Course (BVC) runs for one academic year; the part-time course for two years.

·         Pupillage:  Pupillage consists of one year spent in an authorised pupillage training organisation (either barristers' chambers or another approved legal environment). In this stage the pupil gains practical training under the supervision of an experienced barrister. Pupillage is divided into two parts: the non-practising six months during which pupils shadow, and work with, their approved pupil supervisor and the second practising six months when pupils, with their approved pupil supervisor’s permission, can undertake to supply legal services and exercise rights of audience.

·         There are further training requirements that barristers must comply with throughout their careers. At present, in the first three years of practice, a barrister must complete 45 hours of continuing professional development, including at least nine hours of advocacy training and three hours of ethics. After the first three years of practice, barristers are required to undertake 12 hours of continuing professional development each year under the established practitioners’ programme.

Professional Bodies

The Bar Council is the professional body for barristers in England and Wales. It provides representation and services for the Bar, and Guidance on issues of professional practice.

There are many roles of the Bar council, i.e.:

·         To represent the Bar as a modern and forward looking profession which seeks to maintain and improve the quality and standard of service to all clients

·         To maintain and enhance professional standards

·         To maintain effective complaints and disciplinary procedures

·         To develop an effective, fair and affordable system for recruiting, and of regulating entry to the profession

·         To regulate education and training for the profession

·         To combat discrimination and disadvantage at the Bar

·         To develop and promote the work of the Bar

·         To conduct research and promote the Bar’s views on matters affecting the administration of justice, including substantive law reform

·         To provide services for members of the Bar, e.g. Fees Collection, publications, conferences, guidance on practice management and development

·         To promote the Bar’s interests with Government, the EC, the Law Society, International Bars and other organisations with common interests.

Role/Work

Barristers provide specialist legal advice and represent their clients in courts and tribunals. The work is intellectually challenging in an intense and demanding professional environment. It is also a very rewarding career. Barristers’ work varies considerably depending on the area of law they practise in, and their seniority. Typically, barristers do some or all of the following:

·         Advising clients on the law and the strength of their legal case. This often requires considerable amounts of legal research, followed by writing an ‘Opinion’ for your client setting out your advice.

·         Holding ‘conferences’ with clients to discuss their case and give them legal advice.

·         Representing clients in court. This can include presenting the case, cross-examining witnesses, summing up all relevant material and giving reasons why the court should support your case.

·         Negotiating settlements with the other side.

Most barristers are self-employed and work in chambers, although approximately 20 percent are “employed barristers” and work for an employer in industry, commerce or central or local government. This is known as the 'Employed Bar'. The role of the employed barrister can vary greatly depending on the employer. The majority will work in specialist legal departments advising only the organisation they work for. Self-employed barristers work in offices called chambers which they may share with other barristers. On completion of their training, barristers apply for tenancy in a set of chambers.

Website

www.barcouncil.org.uk


Solicitors

Qualifications & Training

There are 3 parts to becoming a solicitor:

·         Academic Training: This gives the fundamentals of legal knowledge; this requires a person to complete successfully a qualifying law degree. This is set out under the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990. It should also be noted that the degree remains valid for seven years, after which it becomes stale. This is to ensure that solicitors have up-to-date basic legal knowledge.

·         Vocational Training: this is the Legal Practice Course, which provides the professional training for a solicitor. The main purpose of the course is to learn how to apply the law to the needs of clients. At the end of the course, a trainee solicitor will be able to enter a training contract with the necessary knowledge and skills to undertake appropriate tasks under proper supervision.

·         Training Contract: The training contract is a period of practice-based training. The idea is that the trainee will gain practical training under supervision, and learn to apply a range of skills through working in a solicitor’s office or legal department of another organisation. Trainees are paid with minimum amounts set. This is normally two years of full-time work, but can be part time over a longer period.

·         Non-Law Graduate Route: This is where a student graduates from a non-law degree course and then completes a Common Professional Examination (CPE) course or a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) course.

·         Institute of Legal Executives: The second non graduate route is the ILEX route. In this route, the person must pass equivalent examinations in the foundations of legal knowledge and a further legal subject.

Professional Bodies

·         The Law Society represents solicitors in England and Wales. From negotiating with and lobbying the profession's regulators, government and others, to offering training and advice, we're here to help, protect and promote solicitors across England and Wales.

·         The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) deals with all regulatory and disciplinary matters, and sets, monitors and enforces standards for solicitors across England and Wales. Formerly known as the Law Society Regulation Board, it acts solely in the public interest.

·         The Legal Complaints Service (LCS) is for members of the public wishing to make a complaint about solicitors. Formerly known as the Consumer Complaints Service, this independent and impartial body will work with solicitors to resolve any issues quickly and efficiently.

Role/Work

Solicitors provide clients with expert legal advice and assistance. The best solicitors combine legal expertise with people-skills to help their clients cope with stressful situations, such as divorce, bereavement, moving house or arrest. Solicitors also appear in court in enforcement proceeding, such as repossession cases. In criminal cases they often represent their client in the Magistrates Court.

Website

www.lawsociety.org.uk

 

Legal Executives

Qualifications & Training

·         To qualify the usual minimum is four GCSEs at grade C or above, including English Language. However you have to become a member of ILEX. There are three types of membership.

·         The first is Student Membership, where academic training is started by taking a series of course covering a range of the areas of law and legal practice encountered in the legal profession.

·         The second type is Membership. Students apply for enrolment into this grade of ILEX on successful completion of both parts of the ILEX professional qualifications in law. This takes an average four years part time study to complete.

·         Finally, there is Fellowship. To achieve the full qualification of Fellow, Members of ILEX must have five years qualifying employment under the supervision of a solicitor, including a minimum of two years after passing all the examinations.

·         Each year a Fellow is required to complete a minimum of 12 hours continuing professional development, rising to 16 hours from 2008. Members will also be required to undertake continuing professional devilment: was 6 hours now 8 hours from 2008.

Professional Bodies

ILEX: The Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX) is the professional body which represents 24,000 trainee and practicing Legal Executives. Their role is to enhance the role and standing of Legal Executives in the legal profession. They aim is:

·         To provide an organisation for persons who are registered or studying with ILEX who provide legal services and who are a resident in England and Wales or elsewhere

·         To provide for the education, training and development of skills for Fellows and persons who wish to become experts in the law or otherwise

·         To advance and protect the status and interests of Fellows and those persons referred to above

·         To promote professional unity, co-operation and mutual assistance amongst persons employed in the legal profession or engaged in legal work

·         To promote and secure professional standards of conduct amongst Fellows and those who are registered with ILEX, by publishing codes of conduct and guides to good practice, and regulating the membership to ensure compliance with those standards

·         To give and award diplomas, certificates, prizes, scholarships, bursaries or other awards to those who show proficiency in the Law.

 

Role/Work

Legal executives specialize in a particular area of law such as conveyancing, wills, matrimonial matters or general litigation. Their day to day work is similar to that of a solicitor earning fees for the firm of solicitor’s firm whom they work for.

The areas of law that Legal Executive lawyers most often specialise in are as follows:

·         Civil litigation (such as Personal Injury; Debt recovery; Housing; Employment)    

·         Criminal litigation (either Defence or Prosecution)

·         Family law                         

·         Conveyancing                             

·         Public law work (such as working in a Local Authority; in Government; Welfare benefits; or Immigration)

·         Private client  (such as Finance; or Probate and wills)

·         Corporate (Company or Commercial law)

·         Legal Practice (Practice management; or Costs and accounts work).

A Legal Executive lawyer is normally an employee and currently cannot be a partner in a firm of solicitors, although it may be possible to become an associate in a law firm and Fellows can go on to become Advocates.

Website

www.ilex.org.uk


Routes

The routes to becoming a barrister:

 

   Law graduate

 

   Non-Law graduate

 

A-Levels


 

A-Levels

 


 

 

Degree in Law


 

Degree in any subject

 


 

 

Bar Vocational Course


 

Conversion Course (CPE, GDL)

 


 

 

First Six Months Pupillage


 

Bar Vocational Course

 


 

 

Second Six Months Pupillage


 

First Six Months Pupillage

 


 

 

Tenancy


 

Second Six Months Pupillage

 


 




 

Tenancy





 

 

The routes to becoming a solicitor:

 


   Law graduate

 

   Non-Law graduate

 

Non-graduate

 

A-Levels


 

A-Levels

 

 

GCSE/Mature student

 


 


 

 

Degree in Law 


 

Degree

 

 

Enter Legal Profession

 


 


 

 

Legal Practice Course


 

Conversion Course (CPE, GDL)

 

 

ILEX Part 1

 


 


 

 

Training Contract


 

Legal Practice Course

 

 

ILEX Part 2

 


 


 

 

Professional Skills Course


 

Training Contract

 

 

2 years legal experience

 


 


 

 

Admission to the Roll


 

Professional Skills Course

 

 

Legal Practice Course

 


 


 




 

Admission to the Roll

 

 

Professional Skills Course




 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Admission to the Roll








 

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