There are many different branches of law, and if you need a lawyer (or solicitor), it is important that you choose the right one. Proper legal representation can be very expensive and not everyone will be able to pay for a lawyer to fight for their rights. In these cases, legal representation may be available to people to help to support them.
What is a legal aid solicitor?
A legal aid solicitor is just like any other solicitor; however their costs are covered by government legal funds. The British legal system believes that everyone should have the right to proper legal representation, even if they do not have enough money to hire a solicitor for themselves. A legal aid solicitor should represent a legal aid client in the same way that they would represent any other client; however their fees should be covered by government funds.
Not everyone is eligible for legal aid, because the available funds are limited. Applicants must meet certain criteria which are set out by the government and ask for their adviser to apply for aid on their behalf. A legal aid adviser may refuse to represent a potential client if it does not look as though they have a valid case.
If a person has been arrested and they cannot afford to hire a solicitor, they should be offered free legal advice by a duty solicitor in the first instance. In other circumstances, support agents may help to put vulnerable clients in to contact with legal aid solicitors, so that they can get the support that they need. Legal aid may be available in both criminal and civil cases.
Where do legal aid solicitors work?
Some firms specialise in providing legal aid to vulnerable clients, whereas other firms will offer solicitors who do legal aid cases in between working for paying clients. The Law Society and the Government both offer search tools so that potential clients are able to find solicitors in their area who offer their services on a legal aid basis.
If you are interested in becoming a legal aid solicitor then you may want to use one of these aforementioned tools to find law firms in your area which offer legal aid services to clients. Many of these firms are underfunded, and therefore they are happy to offer unpaid work experience placements to people who are interested in gaining experience of working in a legal environment.
How much do legal aid solicitors earn?
A legal aid solicitors fees are normally paid by government funds, however these funds are limited and therefore the rate that they charge is normally capped. Most solicitors will earn less money for doing legal aid work than they would earn if they were working on a private basis. For this reason, some solicitors prefer to take on private clients, rather than legal aid ones. However, many young solicitors will take on legal aid roles to help them to build their experience. Other experienced and skilled lawyers are happy to continue to offer their services on a legal aid basis because they believe that everyone should have equal access to legal services.
How to train to be a legal aid solicitor?
Training to be a solicitor can take years. Most candidates must have an undergraduate degree before they progress further. They can then take a one year Law Conversion Course (unless their first degree was a Law Degree), followed by a Legal Practice Course. Those who want to do legal aid work are then recommended to take up a training contract in a firm which offers legal aid services to clients.