Careers

Career options for solicitors

Once you qualify as a solicitor, you can work:

In-house

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 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 Queen’s Counsel (QC). QCs 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 QC

Judiciary

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 days in the life of judicial office holders.

Find out more about judicial appointments

Resources

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