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To become a solicitor?

(35 Posts)
Spid3rpig Sun 17-Apr-16 09:26:16

To cut a long story short, I did a Law degree around 5 years ago (2:1, top 5 uni) and decided when I graduated that I didn't want to become a solicitor. I then went into a completely unrelated job for a few years and in the last year decided that I hated it and actually did want to be a solicitor after all. Since making that decision I've left the other job and am now working as a Paralegal for a nice local firm. The course I'd need to complete to be a solicitor is around £15,000 and I'd need to fit it in around work and looking after a young child. There potentially could be a training contract for me where I'm working now but not sure this could be guaranteed. I don't feel like applying to a firm which funds the LPC is a realistic option right now because the job wouldn't really fit around looking after a small child. So AIBU to throw 15 grand at becoming a solicitor without a guarantee of a job at the end and, at 28, am I too old? Or should I just stay working as a Paralegal for the rest of my career? I'm genuinely stuck on this one

Grilledaubergines Sun 17-Apr-16 09:29:45

Invest the money and become a solicitor. So much more potential long term. And whilst solicitors earning a fortune is a big myth, you will earn a good and comfortable salary representative of your training, knowledge and sills and the years of study you have invested.

Faye12345 Sun 17-Apr-16 09:33:14

28 is very young. Do the training!

Carterama Sun 17-Apr-16 09:33:51

Look at CILEX instead, you will get exemptions because of your degree, and it's a much much cheaper option. There is really no difference these days between solicitors and legal executives, and if you really want to, you can still carry on to qualify as a solicitor once you've done CILEX, without the need for the expensive LPC.
Good luck, it's not a great marketplace at the moment

fastdaytears Sun 17-Apr-16 09:36:16

There are a lot of threads about this. The LPC is a lot of money and I would want to know that I had a TC. I was funded for the LPC but not with small children and I do see why you'd be reluctant to do a TC with a big firm in your position.

Would the current firm offer you a TC in advance? Would you be doing LPC full or part time?

Have you looked at the legal exec options? Much, much cheaper and if you're not looking at big firms then there shouldn't be much by way of salary difference.

fastdaytears Sun 17-Apr-16 09:36:54

Carter got in before me!

Yes to the marketplace being less than brilliant. Do you have an area of practice in mind?

Spid3rpig Sun 17-Apr-16 10:03:58

Carter: I must admit to not knowing a great deal about CILEX but I will find out more about it, could be an idea

Fastday: not too sure if they'd be willing to guarantee anything in advance (at least before I start paying for the LPC). I'd be doing it part time. Ideally, I'd like to go into family law but I'm currently in litigation which I enjoy

EssentialHummus Sun 17-Apr-16 10:14:17

I'm not sure I understand this, OP:

I don't feel like applying to a firm which funds the LPC is a realistic option right now because the job wouldn't really fit around looking after a small child.

Do you mean, the type of firm that pays sponsorship would be more demanding than one that didn't? Or something else?

My two cents, as a qualified solicitor who is now half-out of the profession - try to find a way to do this without a mountain of debt and no guaranteed job at the end. Speak to your current firm about options. Consider cilex. Consider applying for a firm that offers lpc sponsorship.

There is a good, long thread on here from late last year which you'd do well to dig up and read.

Amummyatlast Sun 17-Apr-16 10:16:38

As others have said, consider the graduate fast track with CILEx and become a Chartered Legal Executive. Then, if you still want to become a solicitor, all you have to do is the LPC - you will be exempt from training contract.

I would recommend that you give Rosemary Verlander-Smith a call at CILEx Law School. She can explain the different routes to you and then you can make a decision as to what's best for you. Her contact details are on this page: www.cilexlawschool.ac.uk/prospective_students/qualify_as_solicitor/the_CILEx_route

WTAFF Sun 17-Apr-16 10:29:01

I'm a solicitor but I qualified quite a long time ago when the market was healthy. I see how hard it is for the people wanting to become solicitors now. I would carefully consider your options.

tangerino Sun 17-Apr-16 10:33:40

Do you know what sort of law you ultimately want to do? IME attitudes to legal execs really vary depending on the area of law you end up in, so I would personally be slightly wary of pursuing that route unless you already know what you want to do.

Are you ruling out city firms just because of the childcare/hours thing (which I can understand) or for other reasons too? The City is (slowly) becoming more flexible and understanding about work life balance, so if this an option that would otherwise appeal, I wouldn't dismiss it out if hand.

Have you spoken to your current firm? Is it the dirt of place you'd like to train at? If so, is it viable they would offer you a TC (even without funding) then allow you to work PT while doing the LPC PT?

28 is no age- I trained with lots of people that age or older.

Another good option is the GLS- they will fund your LPC, v family friendly, really interesting work.

booitsme Sun 17-Apr-16 10:50:23

I'm a family solicitor and a family mediation council accredited mediator. There's virtually no legal funding now for family law and solicitors are struggling to generate and hold on to sufficient good quality private work. Now nearly all applicants have to attend a mediation intake before they can issue proceedings on finance or children and consider ADR. Court work is dramatically down. I would not go into family law in this climate - it's far too risky for me unless you have strong connections! Many family solicitors are training as mediators but they haven't got the time or cases to go through the rigorous qualification procedure. If I were you I'd pick another area of law or remain as a litigator. There is money to be made there. You just have to be very climate aware. For example, 10 years ago conveyancing solicitors were making a great salary. Now the work has been devalued for sols as it doesn't have to be sols that carry it out - many secretaries trained as conveyancer and took over the work and were far cheaper to employ (and often bloody good at it).

I love my job and maybe you could look into training as a mediator. Mediators come from legal and therapeutic backgrounds. I'm self employed and the money is very good if you remain self employed or set up on your own. Its very hard to get into (to secure training after foundation course) but so worth the effort.

Good luck, don't jump into anything and research, research, research.

booitsme Sun 17-Apr-16 10:52:18

Tangerino is spot on about the GLS - a great way into the profession.

Andrewofgg Sun 17-Apr-16 11:44:46

GLS have one hundred applicants per training spot and while I am not going to out myself I know whereof I speak.

You have to be more than bloody good to get one of them.

I wouldn't choose to do it now. But good luck whatever you decide.

Spid3rpig Sun 17-Apr-16 11:48:37

essentialhumous I mean in terms of the hours being more demanding. The firm I'm at now has trainees working 9-5 and is very family friendly. From what I've been told by friends at bigger firms, the expectation is that trainees work very long hours.

amummyatlast thank you, I will give Rosemary a call tomorrow.

Will definitely have a look at the GLS. I haven't got my heart set on family law and I'd be open to most areas. I'm kicking myself now for not doing a training contract pre-children!

fastdaytears Sun 17-Apr-16 12:37:01

I certainly didn't get to work 9-5 as a trainee or subsequently and that wasn't a city firm.
So if your current firm has that culture/expectation then it's a really good option.

I have an employee enrolled with CILeX law school and she thinks they've been really good so I would definitely contact them. They're really helpful.

Andrewofgg Sun 17-Apr-16 21:08:26

I would have reservations about a trainee expecting to work nine-till-five. Practice is not like that. The day before a trial expect to be in the office late; something will come up, possibly from the other side. Then there are counsel who can only meet in the evening because they are in court.

I also have issues with "family-friendly" unless it is absolutely clear that private lives which don't centre round families are equally respected; which is not always the case. "Private-life-friendly" is not so punchy or alliterative but it's what employers should be.

BeanCalledPickle Sun 17-Apr-16 21:14:04

I'm in the GLS. It's wonderful. I've got a one and three year old and am now in a senior litigation position but this is made to work. Trainees do tend to be full time and less flexible but they are very accommodating. Where do you live? Most roles are London based. Your age etc will not be relevant in the slightest.

MummyBex1985 Sun 17-Apr-16 21:22:00

The CILEX route won't lead to you qualifying as a solicitor, unless you undertake the LPC at a cost of £10k+. But you would be a qualified lawyer.

You just have to spend a year or two studying and taking some extra modules (some of which are difficult, I won't lie!).

Personally, that's the route I ended up taking after having kids. I don't regret not becoming a solicitor - I'm still a kick ass litigator with a good reputation (and earn a good salary!). And I'm £10k better off grin

JustMeAndHim Sun 17-Apr-16 21:44:57

I work in quite a large firm. I can only speak from my own experience but generally we work 9-5. Of course there are exceptions but it's not common.

They are looking at abolishing the LPC at the moment and our firm is considering an internal training scheme instead which they would fund and you would get paid. It may be worth hanging fire until a decision is made on the LPC?

Stickerrocks Sun 17-Apr-16 21:50:13

I work in another profession with training contracts & exams. I would advise anyone in a similar position to yours within my profession to do it before DC go to school. It's easier to get the professional qualifications when you can use nurseries & child minders than when you have to manage the short school day & endless holidays.

EssentialHummus Sun 17-Apr-16 22:01:20

OP, I think - from the jaded heights of "Magic Circle" law - that whether you can do 9-5 or not will be hugely dependent on your firm but also your team, supervisor/s and workload at any given time. Please don't just go on what you're seeing in your current firm/department. I did a 9-5 six months in Pensions followed by a 8-2 (not in a good way!) in Corporate. As a junior lawyer the mantra in some firms is "shit flows downwards". Someone will be along soon to say she runs her own firm from home and suntans in her garden between conference calls, but for the first 5 years or so that is an almost impossible reality.

Spid3rpig Sun 17-Apr-16 22:21:28

andrew I'm not expecting to do 9-5 and I appreciate that the job would require flexibility in terms of hours. Saying that though, I'd expect there's a different between smaller firms and "magic circle" ones. Whilst I'm happy to do longer/slightly more unpredictable hours I think 70+hour weeks for two years might be pushing it a little.

I'm based in London bean.

aliceinwanderland Sun 17-Apr-16 22:35:18

it all depends where you work. I am public sector now (having been in city for 15 years) and most of our team does 9-5.

Could you look at law firm apprenticeships? I think they are aimed at school leavers but they might still work. I've seen a few advertised recently

SoThatHappened Sun 17-Apr-16 22:43:33

You're not too old.

You were me once. You are enjoying the novelty of legal work as it is new and not something you've done before. You are not actually a solicitor yet and have none of the responsibility that comes with it. An entry level paralegal who has their work fully supervised is a nice place to be.

However burnout is a real problem and the novelty will wear off. Being a solicitor is fantastically stressful and the work can be very boring too.

£15000 is alot of money and if you are borrowing that, throw in a few grand for interest on top of it. 9-5 is a myth. Honestly never seen anyone work their core hours and just leave.

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