criminal defence solicitor - what does it entail and how to get there?


Our Compliance Partner Daniel Weed explains what his average day is like, the various routes available to becoming qualified, and examples of how solicitors within the firm have become qualified.

Describe the average day for a criminal defence solicitor?

"A criminal defence solicitors day is never the same, we deal with a diverse range of clients, cases and scenarios, be it police stations attendance and advice, Magistrates Court advocacy or Crown Court representation interspersed with prison visits, analysing evidence and preparing cases. Our plan of action can often change given the immediacy of the advice and assistance to clients.......

.......It is a niche area of law that still attracts much interest from those interested in the profession. Some say criminal defence work is a vocation."

How do you become a criminal defence solicitor

"There are a number of accessible routes to becoming a criminal defence solicitor. They all involve persistence, determination, hard work and like many aspects of life, a degree of luck. Competition for the law is still very high, criminal law is challenging, rewarding and varied. Many opt for the traditional route of A levels, Law Degree, followed by one year Legal Practice Course (LPC) Another option is a non law degree followed by a Law conversion course followed by the LPC. Following both routes a two year training contract at a solicitors firm is required. A training contract is, for many, not a guarantee nor is the offer of a position of solicitor after that training. Persistence and hard work is needed.

You can also consider taking other less traditional routes and at Burton Copeland we have a number of fee earners who have taken alternative routes. One of our salaried Partners, Damian Wall and one of our Crown Court Department Solicitors, Anthony Smith both joined the firm as office juniors and through part time study they gained a law degree and completed their LPC, whilst gaining 'on the job' experience and earning a wage. They were able to apply to the Law Society for dispensation on the training contract 2 year requirement due to their lengthy experience at Burtons, during which time they became accredited to advise suspects at a police station under the Police Station Representatives Accreditation Scheme.

The Accreditation Scheme is a good opportunity for those not relying on the traditional full time degree route to get a much need qualification to help in them becoming a criminal defence solicitor.

Recently I have read of the new Law apprenticeships which offer a development in business skills as well as legal knowledge. It is now possible to take an apprenticeship route all the way from leaving school to qualification as a solicitor. This new opportunity may attract many to consider as clearly it is a route which avoids the inevitable debts that often comes with full time study as well as having the benefit of employment experience and an income."

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Daniel Weed - Compliance Partner, Burton Copeland

Daniel became a partner at Burton Copeland in 2005 and has experience in various disciplines including crime and and regulatory law where he acts for professionals accused of misconduct. To contact Daniel click here.