Now that you’re aware of how to make it as a solicitor (vacation scheme, LPC, training contract etc.) you may be wondering how your career can progress and develop other than climbing the ranks to become a senior associate or partner.
Ever thought about becoming a solicitor advocate? No, but want to find out more? Oh boy, aren’t you in the right place. Right then, first things first…
What is a solicitor advocate?
As we’re sure you’re aware, the roles of a solicitor and barrister are very different. Barristers are granted the rights of audience to higher level courts (including the High Court, Crown Court, Court of Appeal and the House of Lords). Solicitors aren’t granted these rights, but they can gain the same rights of audience as a barrister if they undertake training and meet a certain criteria. The result? A solicitor advocate, obviously!
Solicitor advocates carry out similar roles to barristers; representing clients in higher courts. Solicitor advocates are usually practicing litigation lawyers, specialising in civil or criminal law.
How do solicitors become solicitor advocates?
Solicitors need to undertake a Higher Rights of Audience course. These courses usually take place over the course of a few days and are split into two main parts – evidence and litigation and advocacy. Other elements of advocacy, such as ethics and performance, can be studied independently.
To successfully pass such a course and the modules involved, you’ll need to pass three assessments – a written exam, an oral exam and an advocacy assessment. What’s expected? The SRA expects wannabe solicitor advocates to be able to, on the evidence side, identify key legal, factual and evidential issues, understand the opponent’s case, responds appropriately to new evidence and make appropriate objections and submissions. On the advocacy side of things, the SRA expects a clear strategy supported by evidence, a sound questioning strategy, witnesses to be dealt with appropriately and that laws argued are prepared and presented to the judge.
Where can I find out more about becoming a solicitor advocate?
You can find out detailed parts of the assessments and what is expected on the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) website. There are separate awards for criminal or civil advocacy, but any solicitor, from trainee to partner, can undertake the training.
So what are you waiting for? Getting higher rights of audience and becoming a solicitor advocate allows your legal career to develop and enter new territory.