Career in Focus: How to Become a Solicitor

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What does it take to become a Solicitor? Here at Postgrad.ie, we break down the skills and qualifications you need to take on a career in this area.

A career in law as a solicitor can bring you on a dynamic path that can involve any sector, as every sector needs legal services, but due to its nature it’s also an area with a very strict entry process.

Become a Solicitor: What you need

In the Republic of Ireland, education and training of solicitors can be broken down into several steps from the initial training course through the various steps to qualification.

The Law Society of Ireland is responsible for regulating and training solicitors in Ireland, even if you have already completed a Level 8 law degree. Based in Blackhall Place in Dublin, the Society runs the professional Practice Course which is the core of the training that solicitors require.

The first thing you need to do after you graduate is sit the Law Society’s entrance examination, know as the Final Examination 1st Part (Fe-1), this exam is normally held at two different times during the year, traditionally during the autumn and the spring but keep an eye on the Law Society’s website (www.lawsociety.ie) for any updates.

What next?

Your next step is to secure a training contract, which you will likely have started the process of doing this while in college, with a practicing solicitor or law firm. You can also secure a training contract within a firm that has a legal department of course, but is not only focused on the legal sector, for example, many major financial institutions. Concurrently with your training contract you will need to complete the First Professional Practice Course with the Law Society, which will be supported as part of your training contract. These courses normally run the length of the academic year. You then need to start your training contract, which will run for two years, during which you return to the Law Society for the second Professional Practice Course (Professional Practice Course II). These courses normally start in April and run for three months before exams in June.

After passing this exam you need to return to your training contract to complete your practical on-the-job training , which usually lasts approximately another year. After that, if all your exams have been passed, you are eligible to apply for admission onto the Roll of Solicitors. You can upload your details onto the Society’s system, which is then accessible by legal firms seeking to recruit solicitors. The Law Society is also an enduring support to Solicitors throughout their careers through ongoing training, networking, conferences and seminars. It’s also a very important resource in advocating on behalf of solicitors in an area which can be subject to to rigorous analysis and inspection.

On the job

As a working solicitor you will likely either work in litigation (where you work on civil or criminal cases with a court barrister), commercial or corporate law (in finance or tech sectors to name but two), conveyancing (which deals with property) or dealing with other elements relating to advising private clients (family law, personal injury, planning law etc.) Remember, literally every sector of business or area of industry requires legal expertise.

A good solicitor will have, in addition to a solid and thorough grasp of legal practicalities, very strong interpersonal and communication skills. Remember that you will likely at times in your career be explaining very complex information to people who may be under significant levels of stress or duress and the implications of the advice you give may be very major indeed in terms of the impact it can have on your client. You’ll need to work hard to keep on top of caseloads and be able to handle pressure and use your initiative to find the best solutions.


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