There are a wide, wide variety of practice areas any young, freshly graduated trainee solicitor to choose from. Below is a list of the main practice areas we feel are currently the most popular for new and experienced lawyers alike, and what you can typically expect to encounter within each one.
Advocacy law crosses over with civil, family, and criminal law issues, and is defined as when the solicitor is actively supporting or arguing for/in favour of a particular cause of proposal. Solicitors can also complete a separate qualification in advocacy, which then allows them to practice in both crown court and high court.
Civil litigation, otherwise known as dispute resolution, is the practice of resolving disputes between individuals and/or businesses. The disputes can include areas of business and property issues, debt recovery, breaches of contract/trust, libel, and partnership disputes, etc. Civil litigation has the same aims for every case, including saving expenses, dealing with the case expeditiously and fairly, ensuring both parties are equal within the case, as well as more case-specific aims.
Commercial law tends to be an umbrella term for a variety of legal services, all of which are tailored to support businesses. Commercial lawyers are tasked with supporting their business clients, for instance in regards to drawing up contracts and specific arrangements, and overall ensuring their clients make money from their goods and services.
The United Kingdom has three main sectors of competition law: domestic, European Union, and international. Overall, competition law is designed to maintain a free trading market, by prohibiting anti-competitive conduct and agreements from business entities that threaten a free market.
Insolvency literally means being unable to pay debts , so when practicing consumer or insolvency law, the solicitor will be responsible for advising their clients when they’re unable to repay their debts, whether as an individual or a business. Solicitors will be well versed in the Consumer Credit Directive, as well all matters of bankruptcy.
When practicing criminal law, you can expect a wide and varied workload, with no two cases ever quite the same. Criminal lawyers can represent clients from all walks of life, charged with any crime from minor traffic violations, to possession with intent, to even first degree murder.
Otherwise known as a mediator, a lawyer specialising in dispute resolution is tasked with resolving conflict between opposing parties, without the case having to go to court. In terms of alternative dispute resolution, or ADR, the main aspects are adjudication, arbitration, and conciliation as well as the more commonly known mediation.
Lawyers who specialise in employment law can work on behalf of either the company or individual in question, depending on the case. Employment law in itself is all encompassing, and can focus on every step in the process of employment, from hiring to firing.
The main issues that family law covers include divorce, child custody or child support arrangements, prenuptial agreements, adoption procedures, and more. Lawyers who wish to specialise in family law should also be skilled in counselling, and at least comfortable with mediation and/or negotiation.
Immigration law is a practice area that can take you across all four corners of the globe, where you can be dealing with varied issues such as work permits, student visas, or asylum seeking. You must be well versed in all aspects of immigration as it can be a sensitive issue, and ensure that you are aware of all updates in its legislation.
As a personal injury lawyer, your main duty would be to defend your client, an individual who has been injured. As a practice area where again no two cases are quite the same, you can expect to see claims arising from workplace or motor accidents, general corporate negligence, and much more.
The property law field can specialise even further into either commercial or residential property law, or you can practice both. If you decide to work within property law, you can expect to deal with individuals, investors, businesses and organisations, public bodies, the government, and more as clients. You can also always expect it to be a viable market, as there will always be property to buy and sell, lease and develop.
One of the most popular and star-studded practice areas of the law, sports and entertainment lawyers in reality can expect to still deal with unglamorous tasks. Typically, this area of law will have you dealing with tasks such as sports or player contracts, financial transactions, advising on business agreements, defamation, and more.
Taxes are one of life’s greatest inevitabilities, and a guaranteed constant area of law to practice. Tax is part of every transaction, whether commercial, corporate, or personal, and tax lawyers have to be very analytical thinkers as its aspects tend to be difficult to understand. However, with a broad enough scope to cover both the private and public sectors, tax lawyers are, surprisingly, never bored.
Jon Gilbert is a partner at the Barnet-based legal firm MHHP Law. Graduating with an LLB (hons) in Law with French Law, Jon was admitted as a solicitor in 2008, and currently specialises in civil litigation and family law.