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Becoming a solicitor with a drink driving conviction?

#1
Has anyone on here got any experience of becoming a solicitor with a drink driving conviction?

The offence was committed about 21 months ago and I was convicted in January 2016, reading was 82 and I was banned for 16 months, reduced to 12 months with the course, which I completed.

I am planning a career change into law and have to declare the conviction as part of the suitability assessment by the solicitors regulation authority.

For this type of conviction it says "we are more likely than not to reject your application", which is obviously a concern, but at the same time I have heard plenty of stories about solicitors with drink driving convictions...

There were some mitigating circumstances, and other than this I have no criminal record.
 
#2
Hi,

Haven't become one myself, but I was/am doing a law degree when I committed the offence myself. Anyway, I spoke to multiple professionals (solicitors, lecturers..etc) and they all told me that, in the long run, it shouldn't be a problem. Obviously, if you keep out of trouble for 11 years you'll have the offence filtered, which would likely boost employment chances, but even then it sounds like it shouldn't be a total barrier. With the "we are more likely than not to reject your application" you have to bear in mind it is a phrase that covers a range of convictions (from common assault, to many more border serious offences), and yeah, loads of solicitors have been done for this and still practice. You can apply to the SRA in advance of any training for confirmation that it wouldn't be a problem before hand as well.

Anything else, feel free to ask. Good luck.
 
#3
Hi,

Haven't become one myself, but I was/am doing a law degree when I committed the offence myself. Anyway, I spoke to multiple professionals (solicitors, lecturers..etc) and they all told me that, in the long run, it shouldn't be a problem. Obviously, if you keep out of trouble for 11 years you'll have the offence filtered, which would likely boost employment chances, but even then it sounds like it shouldn't be a total barrier. With the "we are more likely than not to reject your application" you have to bear in mind it is a phrase that covers a range of convictions (from common assault, to many more border serious offences), and yeah, loads of solicitors have been done for this and still practice. You can apply to the SRA in advance of any training for confirmation that it wouldn't be a problem before hand as well.

Anything else, feel free to ask. Good luck.
Thanks for the helpful response.

I was under the impression that being a solicitor was one of the jobs where you have to declare your criminal record even if it is spent?

I am in the process of applying to the SRA at the moment with a view to applying for vacation schemes/training contracts at city law firms this year. I'll have work references (who I made aware of the offence at the first opportunity) as well as a reference from a counsellor as one of the factors that led to the incident were some historic personal/family issues that had recently resurfaced for which I went to about 14 months of counselling.

I am also applying to firms who fund the GDL/LPC as I can't afford to self-fund...

I am in my late 20s and applying as a career changer.

Have you completed your degree? Do you think you'll take the legal career route?

Thanks.
 
#4
Hi, no worries.

Yeah, it is something that will have to be declared even when it's spent, but with the DBS Filtering guidelines, if 11 years after the conviction has passed and you have no other convictions, the DBS will filter it out of any standard/enhanced check, so you could then stop referring to it. Obviously, that's more of a long-term gain but it's nice if you ever wanted to apply to be a Partner or Director in a city firm down the line, not having to bring this up at every turning-point in your career.

Personally, I will complete the degree myself this year, submit the pre-eligibility check for the SRA, but then I'm going onto a little bit of a career break for a year or two or at least that's the plan. Going to try and get some work in the area of law I'm interested in, but not necessarily legal. Reason being is that my offence was partially triggered by mentally burning myself out trying to max-out the legal work experience. After that, i'll see how I feel and whether or not I want to go back.

Can't say a lot to be helpful on the city front. I applied to quite a few pre-offence and I got rejected, but that being said the people who got accepted tended to be people who were older, had a wealth of experience so you could do well. Also, I knew a few people who worked as paralegals before applying for training contracts. It's advantageous as it obviously provides practical experience and can count toward the LPC. Something to bear in mind possibly if funding is an issue. I suppose you could on some forms just write something to the effect of 'motoring offence...can discuss at interview', or lay the offence and the mitigation on thick, depending on whether you were concerned it would stop you getting your foot in the door for applying for small experience.

But, with the SRA, it really shouldn't be a problem if you have references attesting your good character and how you have been 'rehabilitated' since the offence...etc. Historically, the law has high-profile QC's and solicitors who've even been to prison for more serious offences, such as fraud or ABH, which you'd think would be a automatic bar but there you go. City TC's are difficult for everyone to get it would seem, but good experience can get you quite far.

Hope that can be of help,
 
#5
A spot on answer from SuicidalDepressive! :D
And with that, I see I have reached 1500 posts. Doesn't seem long since I noticed I had got to 1000.....
 
#6
A bit of an update...I’ve now been approved by the SRA...

Now I can focus on applications..,

For the benefit of any others asking the same question, I did have some mitigating circumstances as well as good references and good evidence of rehabilitation.
 
#7
Great news.

It’s good to see a success story of applying, because there’s a lot of mixed information out there about this topic. Best of luck with future applications.

Out of interest, can I ask how long it took for you to hear back from the SRA and how much effort in your view went into writing your references/mitigation when applying for confirmation?
 
#8
In terms of effort, quite a bit...

I drafted a statement of events including mitigating circumstances. Had 3 references. DBS check, court report and some other evidence of resolution of the mitigating circumstances that prompted the incident in the first place. I also provided the certificate for the awareness course, including a statement of what I learned.

They also asked follow up questions and requested a copy of my drivers license to check for endorsements I assume (I have none except dr10).

I applied before applying for training contracts at my own expense.

The process was actually quite quick (around 2 months), but they advise it can take upto 6 months.

I have no other convictions or anything.
 
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