Starting a Solicitors' Firm

  • Price: £5.99
  • Published: October 2016
  • Type: Business Opportunity Profile
  • Format: PDF
  • Qualifications and skills
  • Key market issues and trends
  • Trading, commercial and legal issues
  • Legislation
  • Further information

Solicitors' firms deal with a variety of legal issues, covering both 'private' and 'public' law. They represent both individual and commercial clients, for example in relation to matrimonial and child custody disputes, the defence of criminal cases, employment tribunals, compensation cases (for example following accidents), the conveyancing of property in relation to sales, purchases or lettings, wills and probate, company formations and commercial disputes. Some solicitors specialise in specific areas of law such as intellectual property, agriculture or medical negligence.

Most solicitors' firms comprise more than one practising solicitor, paralegal (legally trained staff who are not qualified as solicitors) and non-legal staff. Although it is possible to establish a firm as a sole practitioner, many solicitors' firms are established as traditional partnerships, while others set up as Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs) or incorporate as limited companies.

There are three separate legal systems in the UK, covering England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, under which solicitors' firms are strictly regulated.

Recent legislative changes such as the Legal Services Act 2007 have introduced more competition into the legal services sector by allowing the creation of new types of law firm, including Legal Disciplinary Practices (LDPs) and Alternative Business Structures (ABSs). LDPs can be set up by various combinations of other types of lawyers in addition to solicitors, and non-lawyers can own or invest in ABSs, which, in addition to legal services, can also offer non-legal services such as insurance.

This profile provides information about starting up and running a solicitors' firm. It describes the skills required, the training available, the current market trends and the key trading issues. It also explains the main legislation that must be complied with and provides sources of further information and support.

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