AQA LAW 01 The Legal Professions

This is a description of the legal professions, their roles and functions in the English legal system

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Unit 1 LAW01 Law Making and the Legal System
1. Outline the qualifications and training required to become a
barrister and solicitor, and describe the work each profession
carries out.
Becoming a solicitor
There are more than 90.000 solicitors practising in England and Wales. Solicitors
are controlled by their own professional body, the Law Society.
In order to become a solicitor, most people take a university degree, not
necessarily in Law. If another degree is taken, for example in History, a further
year's study is taken to pass the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), formerly
known as the Common Professional Examination.
The next part of the course is the Legal Practice Course (LPC) which is a
one-year full-time course (or 2 years part-time). The LPC includes training in
skills such as interviewing clients, negotiation, advocacy and drafting legal
documents. The course also includes training in business management such as
keeping accounts.
Finally, students have to obtain a training contract in a solicitors' firm which lasts
2 years. This provides two years of practical experience supervised by an
experienced solicitor.
After successful completion of the traineeship, the trainee will be admitted as a
solicitor by the Law Society, and his or her name will be added to the Roll of
Solicitors. It is also possible for mature entrants to qualify as solicitors by first
qualifying as Legal Executives and then as fellows of ILEX, after which they take
the LPC or the 2 year-traineeship. Even after qualifying, solicitors are required to

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Continuing Professional
The work of solicitors
Most solicitors work in private practice in a partnership of solicitors. However,
some solicitors may work in the Crown Prosecution Service, or for a Local
Authority or for a Government Department. Others may become legal advisers in
commercial or industrial businesses.
` High Street' solicitors are often referred to as the General Practitioners of Law.…read more

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Becoming a barrister
There are about 14.000 barristers practising independently in England and Wales.
Solicitors are controlled by their own professional body, the General Council of
the Bar. Barristers are known collectively as `the Bar'.
Most barristers have taken a university degree. If they have not taken a degree in
Law, a further year's study is taken to pass the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL),
formerly known as the Common Professional Examination.…read more

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The majority of barristers concentrate on advocacy, representing clients in court,
but they also provide specialist advice through counsel's opinion to solicitors. The
litigation work of a barrister also includes drafting pleadings prior to the case
coming to court. Barristers have rights of audience in all English courts.
In the past anyone who wished to instruct a barrister had to go to a solicitor first.
The solicitor would then brief the barrister.…read more

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It used to be held that a solicitor presenting a case in court could not be sued for
negligence. However, in Hall v Simons (2000), the House of Lords decided that
advocates, both solicitors and barristers, can be liable for negligence.
3. Outline how complaints against barristers can be dealt with.
When a barrister receives a brief from a solicitor, he does not enter into a
contract with their client, and so he cannot sue if his fees are not paid.…read more

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Legal executives are professionals. Their governing body is ILEX (the Institute of
Legal executives). ILIEX regulates the academic requirements, the training, the
qualifications and the operation of their members.
To qualify as a legal executive, a trainee must have at least 5 GCSEs though many
have A levels and some have degrees. Becoming a legal executive is now the main
route for a non-graduate (someone who hasn't taken a degree) to become a
solicitor.…read more

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Typical examination question:
Susan has been injured in an accident. Explain how she could get advice about a possible claim
for damages/compensation..
Susan could go to her own solicitor for advice but this can be very expensive so
she might go a solicitor and ask for LEGAL HELP. If she was accepted, she
would get free legal advice.…read more

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Typical examination question:
Sally and Neil are thinking of getting divorced. From whom might Sally get legal advice and
Sally might be able to get General Family Help if she can show that she cannot
afford to pay a solicitor from her own funds. General family Help covers the cost
of preparing Sally's case for court and also offer her legal advice.…read more

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At the police station Adam will receive an information sheet explaining how he
can get legal help. He will also receive advice from a duty solicitor though he
can, of course, call on his own solicitor for advice. If he is charged with a serious
offence, Adam will need a Representation Order.
Serious criminal offences are heard in the Crown Court. A Representation Order
will entitle Adam to a defence barrister who will represent him in court.…read more

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can provide some peace of mind against the financial costs that arise when a case is lost.
1. Solicitors and Barristers
Qualifications and Training to become a Solicitor
1. How many solicitors are there practising in England and Wales?
2. Solicitors are controlled by which professional body?
3. What do most solicitors take after A levels?
4. If the first degree is not in Law, what diploma must be taken?
5.…read more


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