Solicitors are regulated professionals. To be called a solicitor, an individual has to be an authorised member of the industry’s regulatory body, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). The SRA acts to maintain standards across the industry and issues a practising certificate annually to all qualified individuals.
The SRA maintains a register of all qualified and practising solicitors on its website. In January 2020, there were over 145,000 practising solicitors listed in England and Wales.
The role of the solicitor is to provide legal services directly to clients, who could be individuals, companies (private or public) or other bodies. They provide advice on the steps needed to proceed and then manages the matter until it is closed.
Solicitors can use the services of a barrister if and when a second opinion or specialist advocacy is needed. Some solicitors have trained to become accredited advocates and can represent clients in court.
A regulated law practice can undertake any type of legal matter.
Clients of regulated law firms benefit from protection granted by the SRA in the event something goes wrong such as negligent advice or service. This means unregulated providers tend to cost less than regulated practices.