Whether you are looking to start your career or make a career change to become a legal professional, there are a few things you must do before you can begin practicing. There are a series of steps you must follow including examinations, practical training and additional course study to be a practicing solicitor in Ireland. Be aware that the process can take two years or more to complete. If becoming a solicitor has always been a dream or passion, here are the steps you will need to take to help you achieve your goals.
Initial Entrance Exams
Preliminary Examination. This is a required step for anyone who has not obtained a degree from an undergraduate institution in Ireland or the UK. Those wishing to become solicitors from abroad with undergraduate degrees or others who have been involved in the legal profession as law clerks or legal executives may apply for exemption status. The exam contains sections on English, Irish government/ politics, and other general knowledge. Preparatory classes and exams are available for a fee. The exam is administered once a year in February or March.
Entrance Exam. This is the next step in the process. If you have passed the preliminary exam or are exempt, everyone must take this exam. It is offered twice a year, spring and autumn, and also has past exams available for purchase to help you prepare. The exam covers eight areas of law: Company Law, Constitutional Law, Law of Contract, Criminal Law, European Union Law, Equity, Real Property, and Law of Tort.
Practical Training and Coursework
Professional Practical Course I. The first of these two courses is about 5 months in length (September-March). The items tested on this course are: Applied Land Law, Probate & Tax, Business Law, Litigation (Civil & Criminal), Legal Practice Irish (LPI) and Legal Skills such as research, presentation and writing. Students will be provided with classroom instruction and skills courses to help them attain the necessary qualifications. To sit for this exam, you must also have found a training solicitor.
Apprenticeship. In-office training starts two weeks following the successful completion of PPCI. The total duration of the apprenticeship is 24 months however this may be extended if time is taken off to complete PPCII courses. The first phase of the apprenticeship runs for 11 months, followed by 3 months allocated to PPCII training and an additional 10 months following successful completion of PPCII exams. Your apprenticeship requires that you work 36 hours per week with time off for holiday and sick time. Training solicitors are required to pay minimum wage.
Professional Practical Course II. This course begins in April and finishes in July. To be eligible for the course, you must have successfully completed PPCI. These courses take place during the day and are considered full-time. Therefore, you may need to take a leave of absence from you apprenticeship training. It is estimated that 3 months will be sufficient, however this is something you can discuss with your training solicitor. The application to take the course requires a letter from your training solicitor about your experience, the amount of time you have spent in the office and a letter of recommendation. There are four required courses and three elective courses to choose from in the portion of the required schooling.
Admission to the Roll. To be considered for admission to the roll, or a practicing certificate, you must successfully complete all the requirements outlined above and a letter from your training solicitor that you are fit to be a solicitor. You will need to apply for admission to the roll to receive your certificate.
The total cost to become a solicitor in Ireland can exceed 16,000 Euros but there are grants available through SUSI. While the process may take time, the combination of classroom and practical training provide a solid foundation for becoming a confident and qualified solicitor.