Difference between solicitor and legal executive

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Jinnyhur99
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I'm confused about the exact boundaries to which the term "lawyer" extends to in UK. Some say that legal executives are not "lawyers" and it would be better to become a solicitor but I am really torn about this because I would rather specialize in one area of law rather than various fields and it is true that becoming a solicitor requires lots of time and money. Currently I am not a law student but I'm considering taking the GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law) as I wish to enter into a legal profession (preferably environmental law) in the UK
So if anyone with knowledge in law could please help me, my questions would be;
1) Are there any disadvantages in becoming a legal executive rather than a solicitor when it comes to acquiring a job? Are legal executives not as well-regarded as solicitors are?
2) What kinds of professions might be available for a legal executive?
3) Between legal executive and solicitor, which profession would be a better choice for an international student to pursue?
4) Would there be a GDL university worth recommending to an international student?
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