Law and Legal Studies

By Frank Bolger - Last update

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Law and Legal Studies is a prestigious industry, and excellent, well-paid roles such as solicitor, barrister, legal secretary and legal executive are entirely achievable by starting off with a part time law course. A little bit of myth busting to get started. . . It is not necessary to have studied law at third level to become a solicitor. And as for all those American TV shows – well let’s just say that jumping up and down like a popinjay (get used to the archaic language) shouting ‘objection’ will probably result in a swift exit from the premises.

Solicitor Solicitor is the best-known and most prevalent of legal careers. They provide legal advice and representation on all manner of legal issues. Qualified solicitors will usually specialise in a particular area of which there are many – such as helping individuals with personal issues (divorce, consumer complaints, planning applications, etc. ); providing business law advice (contracts, banking, ownership, taxation, etc. ) to companies; practising litigation (i. e. representing clients in court); supplying conveyancing services (buying, selling and leasing of property and preparation of necessary documentation); and practising probate law (concerning estates, wills, trusts, etc. ). Solicitors might also specialise in a particular sector such as media law or international law. Employment could be with a firm of solicitors, self employment, or working as an in-house legal expert for a large public or private sector organisation. The landmark exam on the path to becoming a solicitor is the Final Examination – First Part (FE-1) which provides entry to the Law Society of Ireland and a solicitor traineeship. FE1 preparation courses are available from a number of colleges. A successful solicitor requires numerous skills such as interpreting and communicating complex information to people of all backgrounds, and an ability to conduct methodical and highly organised research. Good negotiations skills are also necessary.

Barrister A barrister is a highly qualified advocate of his or her client in court. They are sole practitioners by law, and thus highly independent their loyalty to a client’s cause is superseded only by a higher duty to the court and the law. Needless to say good verbal skills and a keen ability to hold your own in a debate will serve you well as a barrister. The road to becoming a barrister is long, but this challenging and well-paid profession is undoubtedly worth the effort. Non law-degree graduates must complete either a law degree (see part time law degree courses) or the Diploma in Legal Studies at the King’s Inns. Over 25s with no degree can also take the Diploma course.

Legal Executive Legal work is labour intensive with lots of preparatory work required when a barrister or solicitor take on a case. Legal executives help with the administrative workload, but with experience comes greater responsibilities such as interviewing and advising clients and attending court. As with solicitors and barristers, legal executives will often specialise in a particular aspect of the law. This is a perfect role for those with a long term career objective of becoming a solicitor or barrister. Many legal courses will serve as an entry route to employment as a legal executive.

Frank Bolger

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