A solicitor is a type of lawyer. To become a solicitor, you must complete an apprenticeship of at least 2 years and you must pass exams set by the Law Society at Blackhall Place in Dublin. (See 'how to apply' below).
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 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 solicitor.
Experienced and/or specialist solicitors can also now apply to become a
senior counsel and use the letters SC after their name. Solicitors appointed
senior counsel remain solicitors.
The Law Society sets down rules and regulations about how solicitors may conduct their business.
Since 7 October 2019, if you have a complaint in relation to inadequate services, excessive costs or alleged misconduct against solicitors, you can make a complaint to the Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA).
Complaints about solicitors provided by the Legal Aid Board should be made as per the Legal Aid Board's complaints procedure.
Solicitors' rates and fees vary greatly. Your solicitor is under an obligation to explain to you how much his or her fees will be before you engage him or her to act on your behalf.
Many solicitors take on cases on a "no foal, no fee" basis. This means that you will not be charged a fee by your solicitor if you do not win the case. This is most common in personal injuries cases, i.e., where you have been injured in an accident.
You can read more about solicitor's fees on the Law Society's website.
How to apply
Read more about how to become a solicitor in Ireland here. If you are a qualified lawyer from another jurisdiction (that is, outside Ireland), find out how to convert your qualifications to practice as a solicitor in Ireland.