How to become a solicitor: Jacob's story

Meet Jacob, 20, a solicitor apprentice from Essex. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

"I wanted a job where I felt mentally engaged so this is the perfect job but, as a kid, this didn’t come to mind".

What is your job?

I’m training to be a qualified solicitor. A lot of what I do is helping with negotiations between my client and the other person. I review and manage documents, making sure the contracts are in place. You can spend a whole day reviewing one document – some can run to thousands of pages. We attend meetings with clients, see what they want, what they need, and how we think we can we put this in a contract. A lot of being a lawyer is mediating between two parties.

What skills do you use?

There is a lot of English language involved. I make sure the words I’m using are the words I mean to use. We work with people from all over the world, so it is important to learn how to adapt my working style. There’s a lot of problem solving – I often think that my job is as close to being a mathematician as I can be, without using numbers. Time management is also important as there is a deadline every day!

What subjects did you study?

I did the compulsory subjects and French, Geography and PE. I also did Music on the side. At sixth form I studied Maths, Further Maths, Geography, General Studies and AS English Language. While I was in college I joined an engineering group and earned a CREST.

How did you get into your job?

I was looking for apprenticeships online and I thought that this programme was substantially better suited to me than the others. The application process included tests and interviews and there was an open day before the assessment centre, which was a great way to learn more about Dentons and the programme. Getting this job was a very nice surprise.

Jacob at work.

Top tips

  • You shouldn’t force yourself into any job. Do your research and, if it seems like you would like it, then apply

  • If this is what you know you want to do, give it a shot. If it doesn’t work out, it’s not the end of the world.

What to expect if you want to become a solicitor

When Jacob finishes his apprenticeship, he will be a qualified solicitor.

  • Solicitor salary: £25,000 to £100,00 per year
  • Solicitor working hours: 37 to 50 per week

What qualifications do you need to be a solicitor?

  • Typical entry requirements: You could do a solicitor degree apprenticeship to qualify as a solicitor. This route usually takes around five years and you'll need your employer's support to do it. To do this apprenticeship, you'll need five GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English and Maths and three A-levels (or equivalent) at grade C or above. You could start with a legal firm and do on-the-job training like the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) Level 6 Professional Diploma in Higher Law and Practice. You would then complete a period of further training to qualify as a solicitor. You could also do a law degree, then complete the postgraduate Legal Practice Course, do a non-law degree, followed by the Common Professional Examination or Graduate Diploma in Law. To get into some universities, you'll need to pass the Law National Aptitude Test (LNAT). You'll usually need three A-levels or equivalent or a degree in any subject for a postgraduate course.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI, National Careers Service)

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