What are solicitors called in UK?

In the United Kingdom, solicitors play a crucial role in the legal field, providing legal advice and representation to clients. Understanding the different aspects of solicitors and their professional titles is important for both aspiring solicitors and the general public. This article explores the role of solicitors in the UK, the process of becoming a solicitor, and the various professional titles in the legal field.

Key Takeaways

  • Solicitors in the UK must have at least 3 years of Post Qualification Experience (PQE) before they can become owners of a law firm, ensuring a level of work-based expertise.
  • The professional title of ‘Solicitor’ in the UK requires specific qualifications and experience, providing assurance to clients about the practitioner’s legal knowledge and skills.
  • In the UK, individuals who have completed the Legal Practice Course (LPC) may not necessarily be able to refer to themselves as non-practising solicitors, highlighting the distinctions in professional titles and qualifications.
  • Calling oneself a barrister without the necessary qualifications and legal experience is considered a criminal offence in the UK, emphasizing the importance of adhering to professional standards and regulations.
  • For international legal work such as drafting agreements or arbitration, individuals may consider using titles like ‘barrister graduates’ or ‘qualified barristers’ to accurately represent their legal expertise on a global platform.

Solicitors in the UK

Solicitors in the UK

Solicitors Register

The Solicitors Register is an essential tool for the public to verify the credentials of legal professionals in the UK. It provides a comprehensive list of individuals and firms authorized to practice law, ensuring transparency and trust in the legal system.

  • The register includes details such as the solicitor’s name, the firm they work for, and their current status.
  • It is regularly updated to reflect changes in practice rights and to issue scam alerts.
  • Users can search for solicitors based on location, area of law, or the services they provide.

The Solicitors Register is a safeguard for clients, confirming that they are dealing with a qualified and regulated solicitor. It is particularly useful when seeking representation in specialized fields such as criminal, traffic, and family law.

Remember to consult the Solicitors Register before engaging with a legal professional to ensure they are legitimately qualified to provide the services you require.

Choosing a solicitor

Choosing the right solicitor is a crucial step in effectively navigating the legal landscape. In England, solicitors and lawyers are distinct roles, with solicitors offering a range of services from legal advice to representing clients in court. It’s important to understand these roles to make informed decisions.

When selecting a solicitor, consider the following:

  • Their area of expertise and whether it aligns with your legal needs.
  • The size and type of firm, as this can affect the level of personalized service.
  • The solicitor’s experience and qualifications, particularly if your case is complex.
  • Location and accessibility, which may be important for face-to-face meetings.

Ensure that the solicitor you choose is registered and in good standing with the relevant regulatory bodies. This provides a layer of protection and assurance of professional standards.

Finally, don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations or to consult multiple solicitors before making your decision. This will give you a better sense of your options and the confidence that you’ve chosen the right professional for your situation.

Instructing a solicitor

When you require legal assistance, instructing a solicitor is a critical step in ensuring that your legal matters are handled professionally. Solicitors are the primary legal advisors and representatives for individuals and businesses in the UK. They are responsible for providing advice, preparing documents, and representing clients in both civil and criminal matters.

To instruct a solicitor, you should:

  • Identify your legal needs and find a solicitor who specializes in the relevant area of law.
  • Arrange an initial consultation to discuss your case and understand the solicitor’s approach.
  • Agree on the scope of work, fees, and the terms of engagement before proceeding.

It is important to have clear communication with your solicitor to ensure that your expectations are aligned and that you are kept informed throughout the process.

Remember that solicitors in the UK must be registered and are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), which maintains standards and protects consumers. If you encounter any problems or have complaints, the SRA provides a framework for resolution.

Problems and complaints

When facing issues with a solicitor’s service, it is crucial to know the appropriate steps to address your concerns. The first step is to communicate directly with the solicitor or their firm to attempt to resolve the matter informally. If this does not lead to a satisfactory outcome, you can escalate the complaint to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Clients have the right to expect a certain standard of professionalism and diligence from their solicitors. When these expectations are not met, the SRA provides a structured process for filing complaints.

The SRA outlines a clear procedure for complaints, which includes:

  • Submitting a formal complaint to the solicitor’s firm.
  • If unresolved, referring the issue to the Legal Ombudsman.
  • The Ombudsman can investigate complaints about poor service, overcharging, or the conduct of solicitors.

It is important to note that there are time limits for making a complaint, and the SRA can only investigate issues that fall within its remit. For matters outside of this, such as disputes over fees or negligence claims, seeking legal advice may be necessary.

Scam alerts

The legal landscape is fraught with individuals and entities that may misrepresent themselves as legitimate solicitors. It is crucial to remain vigilant against such fraudulent activities. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) provides a scam alert service to inform the public about potential scams involving those falsely claiming to be solicitors. This service is an essential resource for anyone seeking to verify the authenticity of legal correspondence or services offered.

To assist in identifying scams, the SRA maintains a searchable database of recent alerts. For example, a recent scam involved a fax message from ‘Good Law Corporation’ regarding an insurance payout, and another case featured emails misusing the name of ‘Edmondson Hall Solicitors’ for conveyancing matters. It is advisable to regularly check the SRA’s scam alerts and to report any suspicious activities you encounter.

If you’re a client of a solicitor or firm that has been prosecuted or shut down by the SRA, your service may be affected. It’s important to understand the steps you should take in such situations to protect your interests.

Who we are

We are a collective of dedicated legal professionals committed to upholding the law and providing exceptional service to the public. Our team is diverse, with a strong commitment to equality and inclusion, ensuring that our services are accessible to everyone. We strive to make a positive impact on society through our work and policies.

  • Equality and Diversity
  • Decision making
  • Research and reports

Our strategy is not just about the letter of the law, but also about the spirit of justice and community service. We aim to be transparent in our operations, engaging with the public through consultations and discussions to better serve their needs.

With a focus on innovation and continuous improvement, we are always looking for ways to enhance the client experience and the efficiency of our services. Our senior leadership team guides us with a vision that embraces both tradition and progress in the legal field.

Becoming a solicitor

Becoming a solicitor

Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) route

The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is a new pathway to becoming a solicitor in the UK, replacing the traditional Legal Practice Course (LPC). Candidates must pass two sets of examinations, SQE1 and SQE2, to demonstrate their legal knowledge and practical skills respectively.

The SQE route is designed to ensure that all aspiring solicitors meet consistent high standards of legal knowledge and practice.

The SQE route also requires candidates to complete two years of qualifying work experience. This can be gained in various legal settings, offering flexibility and the opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge in practical situations.

  • SQE1 focuses on legal knowledge, including subjects like contracts, torts, and property law.
  • SQE2 assesses practical legal skills, such as client interviewing, advocacy, and legal research.

The SQE is intended to open up the legal profession to a wider pool of talent, providing a more accessible and equitable route to qualification.

Legal Practice Course (LPC) route

The Legal Practice Course (LPC) is a pivotal step for law graduates aiming to become solicitors in the UK. It serves as a bridge between academic study and professional legal practice. Upon completion of the LPC, individuals are not yet entitled to call themselves solicitors; they must first secure a training contract and complete a period of recognized training.

The LPC equips candidates with the practical skills and knowledge necessary for the solicitor’s role, emphasizing the application of law in real-world scenarios.

To clarify, LPC graduates are often referred to as ‘LPC graduates’ or ‘trainee solicitors’ once they have commenced their training contract. The title of ‘non-practising solicitor’ is not applicable at this stage, as it suggests a qualified solicitor who is not currently practising law. The journey from LPC to becoming a fully-fledged solicitor involves several key steps:

  • Securing a training contract with a law firm
  • Completing the required period of practical training
  • Satisfying the regulatory body’s conditions for admission as a solicitor

Qualified lawyers

In the UK, the term ‘qualified lawyer’ encompasses individuals who have completed their legal training and are eligible to practice law. Qualified lawyers may include solicitors, barristers, and legal executives, each with distinct roles and responsibilities within the legal system.

For solicitors, a period of post-qualification experience (PQE) is often required before they can take on certain responsibilities, such as owning a law firm. This ensures that solicitors have a minimum level of practical experience before advancing in their careers.

The distinction between different types of qualified lawyers is important for clients seeking legal representation, as it informs them of the expertise and services they can expect.

Barristers, on the other hand, may be referred to as ‘qualified barristers’ even if they are not currently practicing, provided they have been called to the Bar and have relevant legal experience. This title reflects their level of training and their ability to represent clients in court, although additional qualifications, such as ‘higher rights of audience’, may be required for certain court representations.


Once the educational and practical training requirements are met, aspiring solicitors reach the stage of admission. This is the final step before one can officially practice as a solicitor in the UK. Admission involves a formal process where the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) assesses the candidate’s eligibility.

Admission is not just a formality; it is a crucial checkpoint that ensures only qualified individuals enter the profession.

Candidates must provide evidence of their qualifications, completion of the LPC or SQE, and any other requirements as stipulated by the SRA. The following list outlines the typical admission process:

  • Submission of the application to the SRA
  • Provision of academic and professional qualifications
  • Completion of the Professional Skills Course
  • Satisfying the SRA’s character and suitability requirements

Once admitted, solicitors are enrolled on the Roll of Solicitors and can begin their legal careers.

Character and suitability

The final hurdle for becoming a solicitor in the UK is demonstrating character and suitability. This assessment ensures that individuals entering the profession uphold the integrity and standards expected of legal practitioners.

Candidates must disclose any past conduct that could affect their suitability, including criminal convictions, financial issues, or disciplinary actions by professional bodies.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) evaluates each applicant’s character and suitability on a case-by-case basis. Factors considered include:

  • Honesty and integrity
  • Respect for the rule of law
  • Independence and conflict of interest management
  • Relationships with clients and other professionals

Applicants must provide comprehensive information and supporting documents to satisfy the SRA that they are fit to practise law. Failure to meet these standards can result in the refusal of admission to the roll of solicitors.

Professional Titles in the Legal Field

Professional Titles in the Legal Field

Practising solicitors

In the UK, practising solicitors are those who have completed their qualifications and are currently holding a practising certificate. This certificate is a testament to their eligibility to offer legal services to the public. It is important to distinguish between practising and non-practising solicitors, as only the former are permitted to undertake certain legal activities.

Practising solicitors must adhere to the regulations and standards set by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), ensuring that they maintain professional conduct and provide high-quality legal services.

The journey to becoming a practising solicitor involves several stages, including education, examinations, and practical experience. Below is a brief overview of the key steps:

  • Completion of a qualifying law degree or an equivalent qualification.
  • Passing the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) or completing the Legal Practice Course (LPC).
  • Undertaking a period of recognised training, known as a training contract.
  • Applying for and being granted a practising certificate by the SRA.

Non-practising solicitors

Non-practising solicitors are individuals who have completed their legal qualifications but are not currently holding a practising certificate. They are not permitted to offer legal services to the public. However, they can still work in legal roles that do not require a practising certificate, such as in-house legal advisors or legal consultants in various sectors.

  • Non-practising solicitors may have completed the Legal Practice Course (LPC).
  • They are distinct from trainee solicitors who are still undergoing their training contracts.
  • Non-practising status must be clearly indicated when using the title.

Non-practising solicitors maintain their legal knowledge and may choose to return to practice by obtaining a practising certificate in the future. This flexibility allows for career development in different areas of the legal field without the immediate need to practice law.

Barrister graduates

Upon completion of the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) and being called to the Bar, individuals may refer to themselves as barrister graduates. However, without completing a pupillage, they cannot practice as barristers or hold themselves out as such to the public. This distinction is crucial to maintain the integrity of the legal profession and to avoid misleading clients.

It is important for barrister graduates to accurately represent their qualifications and experience to uphold professional standards.

Barrister graduates possess the foundational knowledge and skills of a barrister, but they must be cautious not to overstate their legal standing. The title ‘barrister-at-law’ implies completion of pupillage and the ability to represent clients in court, which is not the case for those without this experience. Instead, they may choose to describe themselves as having barrister-like qualities or as barrister graduates, which more accurately reflects their status.

Qualified barristers

Once a law graduate has been called to the Bar, they earn the title of a ‘qualified barrister.’ However, not all qualified barristers are practicing. To practice, a barrister must complete pupillage and secure a tenancy at a barristers’ chambers or go into solo practice. It’s important to distinguish between barristers who are actively practicing and those who are not.

Holding the title of a barrister does not automatically confer the right to represent clients in court. In fact, representing oneself as a barrister without the proper credentials is a criminal offense. This distinction is critical to maintain the integrity of the legal profession and to ensure that clients receive representation from fully qualified individuals.

For those who have completed their Bar training but have not yet secured pupillage, the term ‘barrister graduate’ is more appropriate. This term accurately reflects their status and avoids any potential legal issues associated with misrepresentation. Here’s a brief overview of the titles:

  • Barrister graduate: Completed Bar training but not practicing
  • Qualified barrister: Called to the Bar, may or may not be practicing

It is essential for individuals to use the correct professional title that corresponds with their level of qualification and current legal practice status.


In conclusion, the legal profession in the UK operates with distinct titles and qualifications for solicitors and barristers. Solicitors in the UK are regulated professionals who provide legal advice and services to clients. They must meet specific qualifications and experience requirements before they can practice independently or become partners in a law firm. On the other hand, barristers are also regulated professionals who specialize in advocacy and courtroom representation. The title of barrister is protected, and individuals must complete the necessary training and obtain the required qualifications before they can practice as barristers. Understanding the differences between solicitors and barristers is essential for anyone seeking legal services in the UK.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can solicitors in the UK become owners of law firms?

Solicitors in the UK cannot become owners of law firms until they have at least 3 years of PQE (Post Qualification Experience), ensuring that someone in the organization has 5 years of work-based experience.

What are the professional titles for solicitors in the legal field?

Practising solicitors, non-practising solicitors, barrister graduates, and qualified barristers are some of the professional titles in the legal field.

Can individuals who have completed the LPC call themselves non-practising solicitors?

Individuals who have completed the LPC may not be able to call themselves non-practising solicitors, as there are specific qualifications and criteria for using professional titles.

Is it acceptable to refer to oneself as a barrister without the necessary qualifications?

Holding oneself out as a barrister while providing legal services without the required qualifications is a criminal offense.

What are the requirements for using professional titles in the legal field?

Professional titles should only be used once the individual has obtained the necessary qualifications and completed a period of work-based learning.

Can individuals represent themselves internationally as barristers without meeting specific criteria?

To represent oneself internationally as a barrister, individuals must meet specific criteria and have the required qualifications to avoid legal issues.

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