'I want to be a ... Commercial Property Solicitor' Joanne Wilcox
Monday 2nd September 2013
Joanne Wilcox joined Marsden Rawsthorn in early 2013.
We pose her questions to answer and share with inspiring "wanna be" solicitors:
What qualifications do you need?
A law degree and subsequent post-graduate diploma in legal practice, both of which can be studied either full or part-time but part-time will take you longer. After this, you will be required to successfully complete a training contract with a law firm, which usually takes two years but you can make an application to reduce this to a minimum of 18 months if you have prior relevant experience. You can also enter the job with another degree, but would need to undertake a one-year (if completed on a full-time basis) conversion course before you commence the post-graduate diploma.
Any other requirements, for example, health and fitness or age?
There are currently no age restrictions, other than you must complete the relevant qualifications. However, alternative routes are available and you could enter employment straight from school as long as you are prepared to complete the necessary degree whilst you work. The role suits someone who is willing to work hard, digest technical information, is diligent and can find solutions to complicated problems.
How long does it take to qualify for the role?
A minimum of six years; three years for your initial degree, one year for your diploma and a further two years completing a training contract with a law firm. It seems like a long time, but the skills you learn studying will prepare you well for life on the job.
What sort of starting salary can you expect?
The Solicitors Regulation Authority has currently set the minimum starting salary for a trainee solicitor in the region as £16,650 and £18,590 in London, which should increase once you are qualified.
What sort of personal skills make someone best suited to this career?
Communication skills are the most important as you will deal with diverse clients ranging from developers building their property empire to local farmers dealing with their land and landlords with retail or industrial units. The key is being able to manage your client's expectations. You also need a good eye for detail when dealing with documents that might run to several hundred pages.
What sort of career prospects and structure is there?
This really is up to the individual and how much time and energy they want to put in, but at the top end they could become an equity partner.
What sort of job satisfaction can you expect from the career?
It is really satisfying when you acquire a site for a client that goes on to secure planning permission for a development and eventually develops out a site.
In 50 words, sell your profession.
The job offers great potential for a variety of transactions and meeting people from different walks of life. You can never be sure what the next phone call is going to bring, which really keeps you on your toes and no two matters are ever the same. There is also a lot of satisfaction in seeing a job through from start to finish.
Authorised and Regulated by The Solicitors Regulation Authority. Authority number 591294.
For details of the professional rules governing the conduct of solicitors go to www.sra.org.uk/code-of-conduct.page