Career options for solicitors

Once you qualify as a solicitor, you can work: Find out about upcoming career events


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

Legal journalist Grania Langdon-Down asks: Should I work in-house?

For more information see the In-house Division

Private practice

Most solicitors in England and Wales – over 93,000 – work in private practice.

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

For more information, visit the Private Client Solicitors Section

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.

See more information on advocacy

Read more about solicitor advocates on the SRA website

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


Should I move in-house? Changing career direction during the pandemic – hear from Jason Connolly on what to keep in mind when thinking of moving to an in-house legal role

Build confidence and move forward in your in-house career – tips for in-house lawyers on how to build confidence to apply for more senior roles and tips for lawyers in private practice thinking of moving in-house


Recharge: Working flexibly as a consultant (Thursday 30 November 2023)

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

The panel discussion will discuss practical points to consider before working as a consultant.

Recharge: Interview Tips (Thursday 19 October 2023)

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

The session is suitable for solicitors across all levels of PQE.

Watch past recordings of our career development events.

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