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Has anyone retrained to be a solicitor?

(71 Posts)
MushroomTree Fri 30-Aug-19 08:42:44

I'm considering some different career options and one of them is becoming a solicitor.

Had anyone done it? How did you find it? I'm a single parent to DD who is 2 and a half. Is it the kind of career that's compatible with a child?

Any advice or tips welcome! Thank you smile

Bluntness100 Fri 30-Aug-19 08:43:58

The road to being a solicitor is not easy. What qualifications do you have, ie do you have a degree?

MushroomTree Fri 30-Aug-19 11:06:41

I have an English literature and creative writing degree. Graduated in 2013.

From then until 18 months ago I was in copywriting/social media/marketing. Then did a change into support work in domestic abuse but it isn't right for me so want to get into something else.

Law has always appealed but for one reason or another hasn't been something I've pursued so far.

lboogy Fri 30-Aug-19 11:31:40

I've not retained but ive considered it. It's not an easy profession. I know loads of people with law degrees doing unrelated work because they couldn't get a pupilage. Plus it's many more years of studying only to start at the very bottom - if you do get a pupillage.

What's motivating you?

I love studying but I balance the cost vs what my desired outcome is and it's not worth it to me.
I'm 41 and thinking about taking on 30k of debt to retain only to have to take a massive pay cut when I'm more concerned about saving for retirement doesn't seem the right move for me.

MushroomTree Fri 30-Aug-19 18:50:03

I'm wanting to be a solicitor rather than a barrister so I'd need a training contract not pupillage but I understand it's still highly competitive.

I really enjoy the law. I've had a few situations over the last couple of years that I've needed to sort out myself because legal aid was unavailable and I enjoyed the challenge of researching the law and using it appropriately.

A career in law is something I've always considered but went in another direction when I was A level/university age.

Now I've been and tried out a few other career options I've come back to law.

And the potential earnings are a motivating factor. Looking at the training contract salaries I'd be earning far more than I do now.

I'm 27 so not massively old to be considering retraining.

I'd like to have a career that's interesting and challenging.

youcouldbeGLAAD Fri 30-Aug-19 18:51:29

Of my friends who are solicitors, they have awful work life balance and very unpredictable hours. Most of them hate it too!

MushroomTree Fri 30-Aug-19 18:58:32

Which area of law are they in GLAAD? This is my concern. As nice as the earning potential is I do have to take into consideration that I am a single parent and I do need to be available for my child.

WrongKindOfFace Fri 30-Aug-19 19:01:00

What about trying for jobs in law firms and seeing how you actually like it? It’s very often neither challenging nor interesting.

Training contracts are highly competitive and I’d think carefully about paying for your conversion course and lpc without a guaranteed training contract at the end. An alternative route in is the legal executive course then doing additional training to become a solicitor if you wish.

PeterthePainter Fri 30-Aug-19 19:05:27

I have only ever known one guy who re-trained as a solicitor. Took him about 5 years and his salary nosedived during that time. He already had a LLB. He did it though.

On the other hand, I have known FOUR solicitors who let their practice certificates drop and gave the profession up entirely (all of them well before retirement age). One re-trained as a pharmacist. Maybe that's a better option?

TinchyP Fri 30-Aug-19 19:06:23

Areas such as conveyancing or wills/probate are much more family friendly - you will really struggle in areas such as corporate or litigation. Do you know what area you're interested in?

Have you looked at the difference between salaries of 'high street' firms and national firms? You'd be surprised how little some solicitors in the smaller firms earn. With the background you have described it would be a job to do because you love it rather than an expectation of mega bucks. What salary would you be looking at for it to be attractive?

Trixya Fri 30-Aug-19 19:30:26

I'm a property solicitor in a high street firm in the north. My work/life balance is great but the salary isn't really. I am happier with this than I would be the other way around though.

Many areas of law I wouldn't touch with a barge pole as you'd need to work ridiculous hours. The trainee posts advertising salaries of say £40k in London are the exception rather than the rule, I was paid about £17k when I did mine in a small northern town!

My boss in another firm as a trainee had kids and they'd call her begging her to go home because she'd work insane hours and hardly saw her family sad it really is something to weigh up.

Think about what areas of law you're interested in and try and get a LOT of work experience in firms first to see what you actually think of it first. The GDL & LPC are expensive if it turned out you didn't want to practice after all.

NeverTwerkNaked Fri 30-Aug-19 19:35:15

You could look into ILEX instead? We have an excellent apprentice doing her ilex qualifications while she works.

I am v senior now and get to work very flexibly but suspect that is still the exception rather than the norm, particularly at junior levels - but would love to hear otherwise.

MushroomTree Fri 30-Aug-19 19:39:23

Thanks for all the replies.

I'd be interested in family law or maybe conveyancing. Definitely no interest in corporate or litigation.

I've been having a brief look at options today and firms like Irwin Mitchell will pay for your GDL and LPC if they offer you a training contract. Frankly that's the only way I'd be able to afford to do it.

There's lots to weigh up and I'm suspecting I'll come to the conclusion that it isn't a viable option, especially with a young child. Gone are the days where I am willing and able to sell my soul to a job!

MushroomTree Fri 30-Aug-19 19:40:39

How does an ILEX work Never? My understanding was that you had to go down the GDL and LPC route to become a solicitor?

youcouldbeGLAAD Fri 30-Aug-19 19:42:58

All corporate lawyers in a city.

moobar Fri 30-Aug-19 19:46:24

I'm a family solicitor in Scotland. I've just resigned following birth of baby. There is not a chance in hell I could do those hours and be there for her.

The court work is all consuming. No scope for me to be part time. It was an impossible situation for me.

MushroomTree Fri 30-Aug-19 19:47:32

Thanks for the reply GLAAD. I'm definitely not interested in corporate law and I'm very much a country girl. I can see that being involved in corporate law would be a very miserable existence if you didn't 100% live for it.

sixtimes Fri 30-Aug-19 19:47:52

My DB has been a solicitor for 20 years & he hates it. His work/life balance is ok but the pay has gone right down & we had to sell our house because if it.

MushroomTree Fri 30-Aug-19 19:48:54

Thank you for your honesty everyone. I'm getting the feeling this was something I should have done when I was younger and childfree.

Singlenotsingle Fri 30-Aug-19 19:56:01

It's very stressful. I've driven into work on a Sunday afternoon worried that I'd missed a deadline. And it's not compatible with dc because you have to work such long hours.

Trixya Fri 30-Aug-19 19:59:05

I don't think you're too old at all @MushroomTree, it's just worth being armed with all the info first. I like my job (most days grin) but I'd hate being in a huge corporate firm.

Another alternative, if you could manage on a relatively low salary, would be to be a paralegal/assistant in a high street firm (who may be more likely to have a better work/life balance). That way you can see if you enjoy it and get a foot in the door of a firm, who may ultimately then be willing to fund your GDL/LPC or put you through CILEX. My firm are quite small but are funding several people in this way who have proven themselves.

Just to add too, I do conveyancing and I'd say the majority of the other local solicitors that I work opposite on transactions are mothers working part time/flexibly in my local area, so it definitely does happen - just not with enormous salaries!

eurochick Fri 30-Aug-19 19:59:49

I'm a disputes lawyer in the City. I have a young child. I didn't retrain - I've always done law.

At the junior end it really isn't family friendly - you are at someone else's beck and call. The hours can be brutal.

Once you are more senior, assuming you are valued you can often negotiate some flexibility.

I'm not sure in your shoes I'd consider retraining.

catmg Fri 30-Aug-19 20:01:04

Regardless of what area you want to qualify into, if you trained with a firm like Irwin Mitchell they will definitely expect flexibility beyond core hours. Not sure they do family law or conveyancing either, they're mostly PI. Bigger firms who are the ones most likely to pay your fees will be more commercially focused.

If you get the right boss you can definitely have a good balance between work and home, but the money definitely isn't what it used to be. Especially in the regions.

Would you consider in-house work? It is a growing market, and generally good for work life balance, hence why it attracts a lot of women! The bigger companies now offer in house training contracts you should look at those perhaps.

Best of luck.

MushroomTree Fri 30-Aug-19 20:04:42

@Trixya thank you. I'd like to think I'm not too old and that I'd stand a chance of being chosen over a bunch of fresh faced graduates! grin

I'm coping on a pathetic salary now so the paralegal route is one to consider.

Going into law isn't all about the money for me but it's easy to be dazzled by the numbers.

What is it about conveyancing that interested you?

Trixya Fri 30-Aug-19 20:24:29

@MushroomTree I tried other (more interesting! Ha) areas first, like crime and family/child care. They were indeed interesting, but the police station call outs in the dead of night and the sheer volume of work and hours that need to go into family law didn't leave a good work/life balance. I don't have kids yet but I'm married and do want them some day.

Conveyancing can be repetitive but I work past my 9-5 hours maybe a handful of times a year. My HOD works part time and does school drop off and pick up, goes to every school play etc. My colleagues and the other local solicitors/estate agents/mortgage brokers that we deal with day in day out are mostly lovely. Most clients are nice too (although like any job, there are some horrors!) and it's rewarding to guide people through what can be a really intimidating and stressful process that most people know almost nothing about before they embark upon it.

There's pros and cons to all areas of law - I was fascinated by crime/family matters and absolutely loved it, but ultimately decided that I was happy reading about them rather than having the stress of practicing in those areas!

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