On completion of a LL.B. in Law there are many career options available to you. The traditional routes of Solicitor and Barrister are still some of the most common however many of our graduates go on to work in the area of media, banking and with large agencies such as the United Nations and the European Union.
Solicitors are professionally trained to provide clients with skilled legal advice and representation on all legal matters. Most solicitors work in private practice, but, commercial and industrial organisations also employ solicitors, as do the Civil Service and the public sector generally.
The work of solicitors varies as widely as the community they serve but some of the categories would include:
- Advising private clients
- Wills, Probate & Administration of Estates
On completion of your degree to become a solicitor, you must complete eight FE1 exams to gain entry to the Law Society. Following this you must complete an apprenticeship of at least 2 years and pass exams set by the Law Society at Blackhall Place in Dublin.
Solicitors have a very wide range of different functions:
- A solicitor may give legal advice about non-contentious matters, such as buying a house or flat or drafting a will.
- A solicitor may act as your agent or representative in commercial transactions.
- Your solicitor may also give you legal advice and represent you in relation to a dispute or disagreement that you have with another party, for example, a family dispute or a dispute with your employer or your neighbour.
- A solicitor may give you legal advice about taking or defending a case. If you have been involved in an accident, for example, a road traffic accident or an accident at work.
- If you are involved in a court case, your solicitor will manage the case and represent you when dealing with the other party. For example, your solicitor will send letters to the other side on your behalf. Your solicitor will file all of the necessary court documents and contact the witnesses for the case.
- If it is necessary to involve a barrister in the case, your solicitor will "brief" the barrister by sending him/her all of the necessary documents and information
- Your solicitor may also actually represent you in court, although in the High Court and the Supreme Court, a barrister will usually be engaged.
Unlike barristers, solicitors are allowed to join together to form partnerships or companies and they are allowed to advertise their services. Solicitors do not have to wear any special clothes when in court. If there is a barrister involved in the case, the solicitor will usually sit facing the barrister in the bench under the Judge. If the barrister needs a matter to be clarified, he or she can then lean over to ask the The Law Society of Ireland sets down rules and regulations about how solicitors may conduct their business.
Barristers are professional advocates who deal with court work at all levels. Barristers specialise in providing an advisory and/or advocacy service for which they are briefed by a solicitor (or professional body). A barrister (also called "counsel") is a type of lawyer who specialises in court advocacy and the giving of legal opinion.
After your LL.B. degree you must pass five entrance exams to enter the King’s Inns. Then you must go on to complete a the Barrister At Law Degree at the King’s Inns, this course is one year full-time or two years part-time. (The Kings Inns is the body which governs entry to the profession of barrister-at-law in Ireland). After you have passed your exams, you must be "called to the Bar" and you must complete a year of "devilling", which is a form of apprenticeship for barristers.
Barristers must wear white collars and a black gown in most courts. They may also wear a wig. In certain courts, such as the family law courts and the children's court, barristers do not wear the wig and gown. In Ireland, barristers are not allowed to set up "chambers" or partnerships together. Each barrister is self-employed and works as an individual. In 2011 the Government published a Legal Services Regulation Bill 2011. If you are involved in a court case, you may come across junior and senior counsel.
Barristers have a wide range of different functions:
- Barristers draft legal opinions. For example, a barrister might give you a legal opinion on whether or not you have a good legal case against someone with whom you have had a dispute.
- The barrister will then write the legal documents (writs or pleadings) which must be filed in the case.
- When the case comes to trial, it is the barrister who will represent you in court, speak on your behalf and argue your case before the judge.
- Your barrister may also be the person who negotiates a settlement of your case instead of it going to trial.
Barristers are not contacted directly by the public - they are engaged by solicitors to work on a case. When you contact a solicitor for legal advice, your solicitor may recommend that a barrister be engaged to provide services. If you and your solicitor decide to involve a barrister in your case, the solicitor will send the barrister a brief containing all the relevant information and documents to assist the barrister in the presentation of the case. Barristers must act in accordance with the Bar Council Professional Code of Conduct.
Barristers are subject to many general rules, such as:
- A barrister may only accept so much work as they can give adequate attention to within a reasonable time
- A barrister must ensure confidentiality concerning client matters
- A barrister has duties towards the courts and they cannot mislead a court in any wayA barrister may not tout or advertise their services