Career options for solicitors

Once you qualify as a solicitor, you can work in-house, in private practice, as a sole practitioner, as a solicitor advocate or in the judiciary.

Find out about upcoming career events

Private practice

Most solicitors in England and Wales – over 95,000 – work in private practice.

Private law firms offer legal services to different types of clients, from individuals to businesses.


In-house solicitors look after the legal needs of an organisation.

The number of solicitors working in-house has been steadily increasing, with in-house practitioners now making up over a quarter of the profession (26%).

Roles usually go beyond providing legal advice, such as understanding the context of the legal strategy and the business plan.

Job titles may include legal officer or general counsel.

There are many in-house employers, such as:

Our In-house Network provides support and advice on key issues facing all in-house lawyers, working in the corporate and public sectors, not-for-profit organisations and charities.

Learn more about the In-house Network

Sole practitioner

Sole practitioners are self-employed solicitors who are the only principal in a practice.

Sole practitioners make up 4.4% of all solicitors in private practice in England and Wales.

To become a sole practitioner, you must have practised as a solicitor for at least 36 months within the last 10 years and have authorisation from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

For more information, see:

Solicitor advocate

Solicitor advocates have the same rights of audience (the right to appear and conduct proceedings in court) as barristers.

They can represent clients in the higher courts (High Court, Crown Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court).

Solicitor advocates usually practise litigation and specialise in civil, family or criminal law. As of 31 July 2018, 6,864 practising solicitors had higher rights of audience.

To become a solicitor advocate, you must meet standards set by the SRA and pass a rights of audience course.

Learn more about advocacy

Find out more about higher rights of audience

Highly experienced solicitor advocates can become King's Counsel (KC).

KCs are often seen as leaders in their area of law and generally take on more complex cases that require a higher level of legal expertise.

Find out more about becoming a KC


Judges in England and Wales are legal professionals with further career experience.

Depending on the role, you’ll need at least five years’ post-qualification experience.

You start on a fee-paid basis. A fee-paid basis is an agreed payment for the work, regardless of the time it takes.

You can work while continuing in practice, or as a full- or part-time salaried judge.

There are several starting points:

The selection process is competitive. If you’re submitting a judicial application, you should attend our event on judiciary interview training for solicitors.

The Courts and Tribunals Judiciary gives examples of judges' career paths.

Find out more about judicial appointments

Career development events

Considering working as a consultant / freelance lawyer? Understanding this flexible approach to working (Wednesday 15 May 2024) – FREE  

This free online classroom is aimed at solicitors across all levels of PQE exploring flexible lawyering models, including working as a freelance lawyer. The session explores different options to this flexible way of working including practical things to consider before going freelance and the legal and regulatory issues to consider.

Changing career direction: options outside of practice
 (Thursday 18 April 2024)

This free online classroom with a Q&A is aimed at solicitors across all levels of PQE considering a change of career direction.

The panel discussion will explore options outside of practice, including the pros and cons of each one.

Recharge: working flexibly as a consultant

This online classroom is aimed at solicitors across all levels of PQE considering consultancy work.

The panel discusses practical points to consider before working as a consultant.

Recharge: interview tips

This online classroom with Q&A is aimed at individuals who want advice on how to impress at job interviews.

Watch past recordings of our career development events

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