This article is intended for those who have little to no knowledge of solicitors and their role within society. Many people feel reluctant to approach solicitors, hoping to settle legal matters out of court themselves. However consulting a solicitor is best advised in order to help the client benefit from the legal matter. |
Traditionally speaking, solicitors are lawyers who deal with any legal matter apart from conducting proceedings in court, with only a few exceptions. In Britain, the legal profession is generally split between solicitors and barristers, with a lawyer usually holding just one title. The distinction between solicitors and barristers however is most often retained.
Before the unification of the Supreme Court in 1873, solicitors would practice in courts of equity, whilst attorneys would do so in the common law courts, with only some exceptions. However after 1873 the title of 'attorney' disappeared in the UK, being replaced by 'solicitor' in all courts.
Solicitors in England and Wales are generally represented by the Law Society of England and Wales, and therefore pay their fees to them. The Solicitors Regulation Authority and Legal Complaints Service act separately and independently of the Law Society, but together make up the complete system of professional regulation for solicitors. This is the same for all solicitors around the country, including solicitors Dorset.
Training and qualifications are regulated by The Solicitors Regulation Authority, and as such prospective solicitors must first possess a qualifying law degree, or otherwise undertake a conversion course. Many solicitors in Bournemouth that I have spoken to received their degree at the renowned universities such as Durham, London and Oxford or Cambridge.
After their initial degree prospective solicitors must then enrol in the Law Society as a student member and take a one-year course called the Legal Practice. This is usually followed by two years in an apprenticeship or training contract, before being fully qualified to handle clients. My local law firms in Bournemouth make sure all their employees have undertook this programme before they start in order ensure the best quality service for their clients.
Recent developments in the field, particularly in England and Wales, have shown that the strict separation between the duties of solicitors and barristers has slightly broken down. As a result, solicitors often appear not only in the lower courts but also increasingly in higher courts. Some law firms, including law firms in Bournemouth have followed this up by employing their own barristers and solicitor advocates to do some court work.
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