Training to become a solicitor regardless of the area of law in which you wish to focus on is an exciting time, embarking of this new adventure that you have chose to take on, where the influence of a parent, teacher or tutor has not been the drive in this area of your education, such decision making can be an anxious time but it can also be a major step to the start of a fantastic career. It has been your choice and your choice alone. As we grow up we are constantly influenced, persuaded, steered in to choosing and behaving the way others expect. As we start to develop in our lives especially in education the choices are there for us to take if we so wish to. Further education, although it may seem a daunting time is the chapter in our lives that really bring us in to adulthood and allows us for the first time to make decisions of our own. Specialist medical negligence solicitor Philip Williams has kindly written the following guide specifically for new trainee medical/ clinical negligence solicitors who want to learn more about UK medical malpractice law.
Starting out as a Medical Negligence Solicitor
Deciding to train in the area of law will be no easy decision for anyone and should never be taken lightly. Law is considerably demanding and very complex however to master such a subject can leave you with an overwhelming feeling for a long time to come. Law needs a student that will commit whole heartily and offer nothing but a 100% all of the time, a student that faces a challenge head on not shying away especially when it comes to one’s own development in the area of law. Highly motivated and determined student who demands nothing but success from themselves and has a firm attitude and strong aptitude when it comes to the subject will succeed successfully in law.
When it comes to choosing a area on law in which you want to concentrate can be a challenging decision it can also be the deciding factor what career path you will choose once your training is over. In this article we will concentrate of a specific area of law, Medical Negligence, quite a complex area of law that should not be undertaken lightly. Medical negligence is highly complicated, completely understanding this area requires skill and in many ways a talent.
Medical negligence claims in the UK can on average take two to three years to settle and its very important that the solicitors are confident they will win the case as two to three years is a long time to work on a single case that you could ultimately lose. It’s best that trainee medical solicitors get the very best education in order to become a high quality solicitor and pass their law degree and have a successful medical negligence solicitor career.
What Qualifications are needed to become a Solicitor?
There are different avenues a potential student of law can go down to qualify to be a solicitor in England and Wales. Most students who wish to become a solicitor after their A-levels tend to go down the graduate route where they will complete a degree course. It is possible to become a solicitor by taking various other degree courses and then go on to do Graduate Diploma in Law which should be followed by a Legal Practice Course and then training in a reputable law firm that is recognised by the appropriate bodies.
Without a law degree – Learning and earning while working is a desirable option for many. Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, CILEx can be way for students to develop a career in law. Those that are already employed in the law industry can opt to become part of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx), and use this route to become a solicitor. To qualify a minimum of four GCSE’s are required. There are examinations to become part of CILEx. It is important to note that planning to become a solicitor using this particular route will be longer than a graduate route.
The Legal Practice Course is compulsory for all regardless of how the academic credits are earned to become a solicitor. The Legal Practice Course (LPC) is a requirement in order to qualify and practice as a solicitor. This course allows students who have not had the preparation needed to become and work successfully within law firm.
There is a third and final main stage of the training process which will evitable lead you to becoming a solicitor is the period of recognised training. This part of the training is almost like work experience and means that the trainee must complete 2 years or less if depending on their previous legal work based experiences. In these final stages the trainee must work as a trainee solicitor in a law firm or other recognised organisations that will take on trainee solicitors.
Although mentioned above is the final training part of becoming a solicitor there is a course right at the end which will mean completion of the whole part of becoming a solicitor and you then will be recognised as a qualified solicitor and be able to practice. The Professional Skill Course, PSC, is the equivalent of 12 days of training in terms of vocational training. It consists of 3 main core modules and then specific areas of law in which the trainee might want to specialise in. Those who took the graduate route i.e. gaining a degree in law or gaining a degree in another subject and taking a Graduate Diploma in law will have taken part in the course already during period of recognised training. Those who have used the train while you learn approach, CILEx, will take part in the PSC at the end of their training.
New to this year (2016) is the introduction of legal Apprenticeships, this is an alternative to the graduate route. This is a huge change to the way those wishing to become a solicitor can do so by training on the job. Paralegals along with legal executives can qualify also through work based training. There is no different in standards to those who choose to graduate through a law degree, a Diploma in Law, CILEx or apprenticeship all will be trained and examined at all the same standards. There will be the same amount of work, training, assessments needed to gain the ability to practice as a solicitor through an apprentice as there will be through any other route. The apprentice will be on a salary and will be trained through office and classroom type learning.
Applying to become a Solicitor from Outside the UK
Those who have trained to become a solicitor from an overseas country may be able to practice law within England and Wales. There is a scheme set up to transfer solicitors from outside the UK so that they can operate within England and Wales. The Qualified Training Scheme, QLTS, has been set up so that solicitors from other parts of the world can practice in the UK without the completion of the full training programme set out in England and Wales. The Training Regulation 2014 for the QLTS is set out by the SRA and any potential overseas solicitor must have recognised qualifications from a recognised jurisdiction. The SRA also requires a Suitability test 2011 to establish if the candidate is of good standing to practice as a solicitor in England and Wales. All assessments required for an overseas solicitor to practice in England and Wales take place in London.
There are two main assessment stages:
- Multiple Choice Test (MCT) – which is a 6 hour test that will have a total of 180 multiple choice questions. (This stage must be passed before attempting the second assessment).
- Objective Structure Clinical Examinations (OSCE) – which will extend on MCT in more complex ways.
What further Qualifications are needed to become a Medical Negligence Solicitor?
Medical negligence law can be multidimensional and very technical. In reality it is combining two of the most difficult subjects and fusing them together. An understanding of law and being a qualified solicitor is not enough in order to be able to represent clients who have a medical negligence case, a clear and precise knowledge of healthcare is key. It is a very competitive part of law to be in and such things are not always the easiest to enter. Having a competitive market means going above and beyond to be able to be a key player. If complete dedication, discipline and strong aptitude were needed to become a solicitor a lot more determination will be needed to be a successful medical negligence solicitor.
The Law Society encourages those that want to become medical negligence solicitor to undertake the clinical negligence accreditation. It covers the required work needed and trains solicitors in the area of medical negligence, those that do not take the accreditation can still represent clients who have a medical negligence case but will not be considered as specialists this area. Within a very competitive area of law where many solicitors are attracted to, the more qualified a solicitor is the more likely they are to succeed.
This accreditation is not for defendant solicitors but for those who want to represent those who feel that they have been harmed as a result of the poor and substandard work of a medical practitioners and also for the members of CILEX. Those that defend clinical negligence clients have their own criteria and may need a complex different set of skills and knowledge than may be needed to represent a claimant.
The accreditation can prove to potential claimants and law firms that this solicitors has a high knowledge, excellent expertise, precise skills and a aptitude for the subject in question. It may be what’s needed to tip the balance from good to excellent. This accreditation will prove the competency you have and the skills to ensure the client is receiving a specialist within the area of medical negligence.