Tort law is concerned with restoring losses and aims to revert the suffering party to their original position as much as possible as if the damage had never occurred. It is a particularly challenging area of law. It can, however, be a highly rewarding career, for example when securing fair compensation for a client who has suffered injury as a result of medical negligence. This article will detail the challenges of being a tort lawyer, the definition of tort law, and the route to a successful career in this practice area.

Learn how to become a solicitor in our guide.

What is a Tort Lawyer?

Tort lawyers handle civil wrongdoings, most commonly negligence. Scenarios where a tort lawyer might need to get involved include car accidents, medical malpractice, damage to reputation, and defective products. A good tort lawyer needs to be resilient, compassionate, and well composed as certain cases may be distressing. While there is an overlap with criminal subject matter e.g. battery is both a tort and a crime, a tort lawyer’s primary objective is to secure compensation for their client who has suffered the damage whereas a criminal lawyer is concerned with the prosecution/ discharge of criminal punishment. Learn about the costs associated with becoming a lawyer.

How to Become a Tort Lawyer - Salaries Infographic

What is Tort Law?

In a nutshell, tort law is about righting wrongs. It is a branch of law that provides relief to individuals who have suffered harm due to the wrongful acts of others. The law of tort encompasses a wide collection of wrongdoings and the exact number of torts is unknown, the list is not clearly defined and it changes with time. This area of law is concerned with liability arising from breaches of duty of care. It aims to offer corrective justice and compensation in the scenarios of physical injury, death, psychiatric injury, damage to property, financial loss, and privacy. The remedies available are interim injunctions, prohibitory injunctions, mandatory injunctions, general damages, special damages, nominal damages, contemptuous damages, aggravated damages, and punitive damages.

How To Become a Tort Lawyer?

If you are interested in becoming a tort lawyer here is a step-by-step guide:

  1. Earn a Law Degree: Start by obtaining a law degree (LLB) from a recognized university. This will provide you with a solid understanding of UK law, which includes the concept of torts.
  2. Complete the Legal Practice Course (LPC): Post-LLB, enrol in the LPC. This course is your practical training ground, where you will learn the ropes of legal practice.
  3. Undertake a Training Contract: After the LPC, secure a two-year training contract with a law firm. This is where theory meets practice, and you will begin to specialise in tort law.
  4. Qualify as a Solicitor: Once you have completed your training contract, congratulations! You’re now a qualified solicitor. You can choose to specialise further in tort law from here.

A more flexible route is via the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) which is set to replace the LPC. The steps are:

  1. Earn a Degree in Any Subject: You do not necessarily require a law degree to qualify via the SQE route, it is however still advantageous as it provides important foundational knowledge.
  2. Pass SQE1 & SQE2 Assessments: You must first pass SQE1 comprising of FLK1 and FLK2 which assesses fundamental legal knowledge on core subject areas. You must then pass the SQE2 which tests the following practical skills: client interview and attendance note/legal analysis, advocacy, case and matter analysis, legal research, legal writing, and legal drafting.
  3. Qualifying Work Experience (QWE): Complete 2 years of QWE. This could be via a training contract, legal apprenticeship, paralegal experience, and other legal roles as long as they meet the SRA’s QWE criteria.
  4. Final Step: Satisfy the SRA’s character and sustainability requirements.

Skills Required to Become a Tort Lawyer

To succeed in this career, you will need:

  • Analytical Skills: Tort law can be complex. You will need to dissect cases and understand intricate legal principles.
  • Communication Skills: Articulate your arguments clearly, both in writing and orally.
  • Negotiation Skills: A big part of your job will be negotiating settlements.
  • Attention to Detail: The smallest details could have significant consequences, especially in legal documents.
  • Empathy: Remember, you are dealing with clients who may have gone through traumatic experiences.

Tort Lawyer Salary

In the UK, the salary for a tort lawyer can range widely, depending on experience and location. Starting salaries for newly qualified solicitors in smaller firms may begin around £30,000 to £45,000. Experienced tort lawyers can earn well over £80,000.

  • London: Salaries range from £50,000 to £100,000
  • Birmingham: Salaries range from £37,000 to £75,000
  • Bristol: Salaries range from £30,000 to £60,000
  • Manchester: Salaries range from  £40,000 to £80,000
  • Leeds: Salaries range from £31,000 to £80,000
  • Southampton: Salaries range from £38,000 to £75,000
  • Newcastle: Salaries range from £33,000 to £60,000
  • Oxford: Salaries range from £40,000 to £60,000

What Do Tort Lawyers Do?

A day in the life of a tort lawyer includes:

  • Advising Clients: Guiding clients through the legal process.
  • Drafting Legal Documents: Preparing lawsuits, contracts, legal opinions, etc.
  • Negotiating Settlements: Working out compensation deals out of court.
  • Representing Clients in Court: Attending court hearings and ensuring the best outcome for the client.
  • Research: Keeping up-to-date with the latest tort law developments.

How to Get Tort Law Work Experience?

It is important to apply for multiple opportunities and gain as much exposure as possible to ensure you stand out and become more employable. Here is how to get your foot in the door:

  • Internships: Look for internships at law firms that specialise in tort law.
  • Mooting and Debating Societies: Join these at university to practice and improve your legal skills.
  • Volunteering: Offer your services at legal clinics or NGOs.
  • Networking: Attend legal workshops and seminars to meet professionals in the field.
  • Vacation Schemes: Apply for vacation schemes opportunities at law firms specialising in different areas of tort law such as Serious Injury.
  • Shadowing: Observing a tort lawyer for a few days will provide you with a good understanding of the workload involved and how it is handled.

Find out how to get more law work experience and stay up-to-date with vacation scheme deadlines.

Types of Tort Lawyers

As previously mentioned, tort law encompasses a wide range of civil wrongdoings, consequently, there are numerous types of tort lawyers. Some of them specialise in particularly niche areas e.g. toxic tort claims arising from illness or injuries as a consequence of hazardous substances exposure. Some of the most common types include:

  • Personal Injury Lawyers: It involves representing people who have been injured physically or psychologically.
  • Defamation Lawyers: They handle cases where someone’s reputation has been harmed.
  • Product Liability Lawyers: These lawyers deal with cases involving injuries caused by defective products.
  • Medical Negligence Lawyers: Specialists in cases where medical professionals have caused harm through negligence.
  • Property Damage Lawyers: They represent clients who have suffered property damage as a result of carelessness or recklessness e.g. negligent construction.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find answers to the most commonly asked questions:

What are the challenges and difficulties that tort lawyers typically face in their profession?

The challenges and difficulties faced by tort lawyers can be quite diverse and demanding. One of the primary challenges is the complexity of cases. Tort law often involves intricate legal and factual issues, requiring a deep understanding of both law and the specific circumstances of each case. Establishing a breach of duty of care and causation can be particularly burdensome. Additionally, tort lawyers must frequently deal with emotionally charged situations, as they often represent clients who have suffered significant harm or trauma. This aspect of the job requires not only legal acumen but also a high degree of emotional intelligence and empathy.

How does tort law in the UK differ from tort law in other countries?

Comparing tort law in the UK with other countries reveals several differences. For instance, in the United States, tort law is known for its higher damage awards, especially in cases of punitive damages, which are less common and more restrained in the UK. Additionally, the legal systems differ: the UK follows a common law system, where case law and judicial precedents play a crucial role, whereas some other countries may have a more codified system with detailed statutory laws governing torts. The approach to certain types of torts, like privacy or defamation, can also vary significantly between jurisdictions, reflecting differing cultural and legal values.

Are there any specific technological tools or software that tort lawyers in the UK commonly use to enhance their practice?

Tort lawyers in the UK rely on various modern technologies to improve their practice. They use case management software to organise and track the progress of cases, and legal research tools to access databases of case law and statutes. Document automation software is also used to simplify the creation of legal documents. With the rise of remote working and digital communication, video conferencing tools have become essential for client meetings and even court appearances. Additionally, data analysis tools are increasingly used to assess the merits of a case and predict outcomes, particularly in complex tort cases.