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Legal executives usually specialise in one particular area of law; they are extremely knowledgeable of their sector and usually very experienced.
In practice, their work is similar in process to that of a solicitor – their training in a particular area will be to the same standard as that of a solicitor, they deal directly with clients and in some cases will represent in court. Solicitors differ in that they can deal with a number of cases in a variety of different fields; legal executives are employed for their expertise and therefore have a much tighter spectrum of cases they will become involved with. Legal executives can perform the same duties as solicitor but, in most cases, will work under supervision.
Legal executives usually work in large law firms or, in some instances, are hired by large companies with legal divisions. There are legal executives who are self-employed but they are rare and will have already established their name and reputation while employed in a law firm.
Legal executives have very high ethical standards, knowing that their influence and expertise can often sway decisions in a case.
Areas of expertise in which legal executives commonly practice include:
In many cases legal executives will work alongside barristers and solicitors. All involved in a case will turn to legal executives for advice and second opinions.
This is a highly competitive field. More experienced lawyers can practice for years to build up a reputation in a certain field. Those with less experience can find themselves working as assistants for some time before being allowed to become sole legal executives, able to advise clients personally.
Most top-end legal executives are self-employed or hired out on a case by case basis.
Law firms have their own legal experts in each field. Applications should be based on the candidate’s own abilities and expertise of a certain area of law, opposed to simply applying to the biggest or most well-known companies.