How to become a lawyer

If you’ve got your sights set on becoming a lawyer there’s a number of ways you can achieve your goal. Learn more about the different qualifications, skills and experience you’ll need to become a solicitor, barrister, chartered legal executive or paralegal

What’s the difference between a solicitor and a barrister?

Lawyer is a general term referring to anyone who is qualified to give legal advice as a licensed legal practitioner. This includes solicitors and barristers.

Solicitors provide legal support, advice and services to clients, who can be individuals, private companies, public sector organisations or other groups. Working in private practice, in-house for commercial organisations, in local or central government or in the court service, they may specialise in certain areas of law such as property, family or finance.

In England and Wales, barristers represent individuals or organisations in court, carry out research into points of law and advise clients on their case. Many are self-employed in chambers, while others work in government departments or agencies including the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and Government Legal Service (GLS). Advocates play a similar role in Scotland.

Besides solicitors and barristers, other legal jobs that are often collectively referred to as ‘lawyers’ can include:

  • Chartered legal executives are qualified lawyers who specialise in particular fields of law such as civil and criminal litigation, corporate law or public law. Only those who complete the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives’ (CILEx) training programme can use this title.
  • Paralegals carry out legal work without being qualified as a solicitor or barrister. They support lawyers by, for instance, preparing briefing notes and interviewing clients and witnesses.

Try to arrange work shadowing and work experience placements, and attend insight days, to help you decide which path suits you. Find out more about law careers and the different areas of

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