Pursuing a career as a personal injury solicitor in England and Wales can be an incredibly rewarding decision. Personal injury solicitors help to maintain an equality, whereby anyone can seek legal aid when they have been the victim of an accident. It is one role of a personal injury solicitor to help people obtain compensation, so they can maintain a good quality of living.
The path to becoming a qualified personal injury solicitor is very difficult, more so than the majority of professions. Obtaining the required qualifications to become a personal injury solicitor takes years of hard work, a strong passion for the profession, and a dedication to the subject.
Law is ever-changing and developing, making it a diverse and unique sector to work in, giving qualified personal injury solicitors the opportunity to specialise in various areas of personal injury law.
Thankfully, there are a number of routes that you can follow in order to become a fully qualified personal injury solicitor, with a license to operate in England and Wales. Justice.Gov.UK provides various resources for legal professionals and would be an ideal place to start.
One of the main ways to start on the path to becoming a personal injury solicitor is to attend university. This process starts with obtaining the required qualifications to be accepted at the university of your choice.
Primarily, universities look at A-level qualifications, or the equivalent, to determine which candidates to accept into their degree courses. However, some universities also require candidates to have achieved certain results at G.C.S.E level, and high results across the board are always favourable.
Choosing to take a law degree at university is the quickest path to becoming a personal injury solicitor. However, other full-time degrees also provide a stepping stone to becoming a solicitor. Law degree graduates will be able to immediately move onto the next step, while other degree holders will be required to take an intensive year-long legal course, either the graduate diploma in law or the common professional examination.
Legal Practice Course
The next step is to take the legal practice course, which is undertaken in two stages; core practice areas of litigation and vocational electives. The vocational electives stage of the course is where specialist legal areas can be studied. Those wishing to pursue personal injury law, can select to do so at this stage.
Personal injury solicitors cover virtually every aspect of daily life where negligence has been the cause of injury, but specialising in just one area and not just the whole spectrum provides the opportunity to excel as a specialist. For instance a solicitor might choose to specialise in no win, no fee claims like Legal Expert No Win No Fee compensation. This provides the opportunity to excel in this area, and in turn provides a specialist service catered to no win, no fee claimants.
Professional Skills Course and Training
After the legal practice course has been completed, the period of recognised training can begin. This is where trainee solicitors are able to gain experience in a professional environment, starting to put their knowledge to the test. Recognised training can last for two years, with possible exceptions if you have already had experience.
During the training period, the professional skills course can also be taken. This involves additional study of the law for a period of 48 hours, and a further 24 hours spent gaining additional tuition in the elective area. For personal injury, this again would be personal injury law.
Once all stages of training are complete, the final step is to apply to become a solicitor. This is submitted to the roll of solicitors in England and Wales (SDA). If your application is accepted, you will be entitled to work as a fully qualified solicitor.
Many trainees choose to pursue a career as a medical negligence solicitor and specialise in that area. Many times it is because they want to help those that have been affected in a negative way due to negligence in the medical profession and try to make sure medical practices are corrected and improved. Specialising as a medical negligence solicitor such as JCP Medical Negligence Solicitors and only working in this area of personal injury law provides the opportunity to excel.
A Guide To How To Become a Personal Injury Solicitor?
The alternative option to going to university and obtaining a degree in law, or another subject, is to go down the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) route. This holds some similarities to the degree route in terms of later qualifications, but normally takes much longer.
There are two slightly different routes to becoming a personal injury solicitor through CILEx; the membership route and the fellowship route. The main difference is that members of the CILEx must undergo the same recognised training period as those that follow the degree route. The fellowship route starts the process by gaining two years of experience after becoming a member.
Like the degree route, the first step is to obtain the right qualifications in order to proceed. Unlike the degree route, to become a personal injury solicitor through CILEx, it is only required to have qualifications at G.C.S.E level. Four pass grades at G.C.S.E are required, with the additional requirement that one of the G.C.S.E subjects be either English literature or English language.
Professional Diploma in Law and Higher Law
The next step is to take the level 3 professional diploma in law. If you are working within the legal sector at the time, this can be taken immediately. If you are yet to start a legal job, it can be taken before. Once the first examination has been taken, the level 6 professional diploma in higher law must then be completed.
There are numerous opportunities for training places within the legal sector. A quick search for personal injury solicitors brings up a myriad of results. Not all will offer “on the job” training but if you contact enough personal injury related websites such as The Accident Claims Guide you should see some positive replies.
The professional diplomas allow individuals to reach such a point where they are on a similar level to those graduates who have finished their degrees. Due to this, the next steps fall in line with what non-law graduates would have to do.
The common professional examination or graduate diploma in law needs to be taken, followed by the legal practice course, recognised training (with fellows being exempt), and the professional skills course. During this time, the same vocational subjects will also be available, so those wishing to specialise in personal injury can do so.
Once all qualifications have been achieved, individuals who followed the CILEx route can then apply to the SDA to become fully qualified.
Health and Safety at work is also an area of personal injury law that interests many trainee solicitors aim to work in. With ever stricter legislation in place covering the health and safety of employees it can be a minefield that some employers don’t want to cross leading to cutting corners and employees facing injury from unsafe working practices. Specialising as a work accident solicitor who only takes on claims from those injured at work like Macks Solicitors can be very rewarding and help to improve employer health and safety practices in general.
For trained and fully qualified barristers, or international solicitors, the route to becoming a fully qualified solicitor in England and Wales is much simpler. All applicants must follow the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS). Normally this involves taking two examinations from the QLTS, with some exceptions made in certain circumstances.
The path to becoming a personal injury solicitor can be very long and difficult, but it is an exceptionally worthwhile career to pursue. Qualifying as a personal injury solicitor can be done at any age, and many of the courses are available part-time to make the process more accessible. The lucrative career, for many, is well worth the years of training, which are there to ensure that every solicitor has the experience and knowledge to provide the highest quality of advice and legal support.