While the legal industry is highly regulated, there are rogue law firms and so-called ‘cowboys’ out there who aren’t qualified to call themselves a solicitor fishing for people to scam. If you are thinking about making a claim for an accident that wasn’t your fault, then avoiding these scams and the people behind them is incredibly important.
Accident lawyer qualifications and training
It takes around seven years to become a qualified lawyer. The first five years are spent in education, while the last two are spent working a training contract. To become a solicitor, one must have a qualifying law degree. The course must meet to be a ‘qualifying’ degree are set out by The Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Bar Council.
In 2016, there will also be the introduction of legal administration and legal apprenticeships for those who don’t want to go down the traditional graduate route. Under an apprenticeship, one does not need to hold a law degree to qualify as a solicitor. Instead, apprentices will receive off and on the job training over a number of years.
Lawyers specialising in accidents, therefore, must have been in education over a number of years and lawyers must have successfully completed examinations and assessments in seven foundation subjects, as specified by The Solicitors Regulation Authority.
However, this is not the end of the story. In order to call to be called a solicitor in a private practice in England and Wales, one must have a practicing certificate. The practicing certificate is a very important document, because this guarantees that a solicitor is qualified to provide legal advice and services and to call themselves a solicitor.
Practicing certificates are governed by the SRA Practice Framework Rules 2011 and by the Solicitors Act 1974 as amended. These documents are only issued to those who apply and those who meet the requirements as set out by the SRA.
How can I ensure that my lawyer is qualified?
You should always ask to see your lawyer’s practicing certificate. However, it’s important to remember that these can be forged. To check a lawyer’s credentials, it is recommended that you contact The Solicitors Regulation Authority. The SRA operate a ‘Solicitor Check’ tool on their website, where you can check a solicitor’s record by inputting their name and their SRA ID, a unique six-digit code. All genuine solicitors are on the SRA’s roll of solicitors.
You can also ensure that your lawyer is qualified by choosing a well-known law firm. Such law firms hold themselves to the highest standards and will only employ lawyers specialising in accidents who are qualified and experienced enough to win cases.