Popular questions about training to become a solicitor.
There are three main routes to qualifying as a solicitor in England and Wales:
- qualifying law degree - non-qualifying law degree - Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx).
Once you have graduated with a qualifying law degree or have completed the Common Professional Examination (CPE) or a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), you will need to attend and pass a one-year course, called the Legal Practice Course. You must then serve a two-year period of training within a firm or organisation authorised to take on trainee solicitors.
You can also become a solicitor by undertaking exams set by CILEx. Further information can be obtained from CILEx's website.
More recently apprenticeships and equivalent means have been introduced as alternative routes to qualifying. Further information can be found on the Solicitors Regulation Authority's website.
We have more information about routes to qualifying on our website.
No - you can get a degree in any subject and then take a one-year post-graduate conversion course known as the Common Professional Examination (CPE) or Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), followed by the Legal Practice Course.
This will take at least one year longer than taking a law degree, and taking the conversion course will add additional cost. See costs of qualifying.
Generally yes. This can either be a qualifying law degree or a degree in another subject.
You can only go straight on to undertake the Legal Practice Course to become a solicitor if you have a qualifying law degree. If you have another degree, you'll have to take a conversion course before taking the Legal Practice Course.
Non-graduates are only able to qualify as a solicitor by undertaking exams set and authorised by CILEx. This takes longer than the traditional routes and involves working within a legal environment while studying part-time.
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No - universities treat it the same as any other subject when considering applications.
An A-level in law may help you to decide if you like the subject and to familiarise yourself with some concepts before starting your degree, but you should only study law at A-level if you are really interested in the subject - not because you think you ought to.
You should pick subjects in which you have an interest and are likely to get good grades - it's important to achieve good results to be admitted for your degree.
You'll find that each university provides information on the grades or point score expected, so check each institution's prospectus carefully.
Some faculties and departments consider some subjects to carry less weight than others. The Russell Group of leading research universities have produced a booklet explaining what types of subjects they recommend students undertake.
Poor A-level grades won't prevent you from having a career as a solicitor, but they may determine which university you attend - top universities will insist on excellent A-level grades.
They may also determine where you practise: many firms use A-level grades as a way of filtering applications. Some will only accept candidates with a minimum number of UCAS points, and won't consider your application unless there are extenuating circumstances that led to your poor results.
If you didn't get great results, you should try to increase your chances of success by aiming to achieve at least a 2:1 in your degree and undertaking relevant work experience. See the Junior Lawyers Division website for information on work placements.
Many factors will influence your choice of university, including entry requirements, whether you're willing or able to live away from home and how well the profession regards the university.
Individual faculties, departments and courses will have very useful information on their own prospectuses and websites. The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service have information on university entry requirements and expectations in relation to specific degrees.
Take advantage of open days, check websites and ask those already in the profession for their opinions.
The qualifying law degree will involve studying the following seven foundation subjects of legal knowledge:
- Contract - Tort - Criminal law - Law of the European Union - Property law - Constitutional and administrative law
It's not impossible to get a training position with a 2:2 if you put in hard work and commitment, but it'll make things more difficult for you, in an already competitive market.
Some firms will not accept less than a 2:1 for their trainee positions unless there are extenuating circumstances that led to your result. You may have to be realistic about the firms that you are applying to, and think about widening your net to include high-street and medium-sized firms.
In the meantime, work on enhancing your CV to ensure that your application stands out from the competition.
Undertake relevant work experience, whether it's volunteer work or a formal placement. You will find that competition for formal placements is high - firms are increasingly using the vacation placement as a recruitment tool, offering an interview for a training position to those that secure a placement with them.
Approach firms which you are genuinely interested in to try to secure work experience. You can use our Find a Solicitor tool to search for firms geographically and by area of law.
Undertaking plenty of work experience is very important, as is networking with those in the profession. Get involved locally by attending local networking opportunities through your local Law Society or local Junior Lawyers Division.
Working as a paralegal could also help you get your foot in the door.
Yes. If possible, this should be within a legal environment - your university should be able to let you know about work placement opportunities. These opportunities will give you an understanding of what it's like to work in a legal environment.
Work experience will also help to enhance your CV - recruiters are increasingly looking for more than just excellent academics, and will expect to see that you've got some relevant work experience. See the Junior Lawyers Division website for information on work placements.
It's not too late - only larger law firms recruit trainee solicitors two years in advance
Many firms recruit trainees from current LPC students, so you should check their deadlines for applications in advance.
Firstly, you should look to enhance your CV by trying to secure a vacation placement. Most firms have an application procedure for summer vacation placements, but a lot of smaller firms don't, so it's worth approaching them directly.
You should also get in touch with local law firms, local authorities and in-house legal teams - any legal work experience you can get is valuable.
You can use our Find a Solicitor tool to search for firms geographically and by areas of law that you are interested in.
Getting a training position is competitive, and you may need to be flexible about where you can work. TARGETjobs Law and Gazette Jobs are two good sources for training vacancies.
More people are now pursuing a career in law as a second career. Firms and organisations are increasingly appreciating the value of mature trainees with well-developed transferable skills.
Research shows that 7.9 per cent of solicitors admitted in 2011 were over the age of 40.
See our information on mature students.
No. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has made amendments to the Training Regulations as part of its proposal to simplify a number of processes and regulations. It is now no longer the case that a Qualifying Law Degree, Graduate Diploma in Law or a Common Professional Examination expires after seven years for entry to the Legal Practice Course.
If the SRA is satisfied that you have satisfactorily completed the academic stage you will be issued with a certificate stating that you have completed the academic stage of training, allowing you to undertake the LPC.
See our guide to starting out as a solicitor for mature students and career changers (PDF 458kb)
Deciding if and when to disclose a disability can be a difficult choice, but it is your decision. You are not legally obliged to disclose your disability, unless it is likely to affect your ability to meet the requirements of the job.
There may be an advantage in disclosing your disability if the firm you are applying to is committed to equal opportunity policies. Employment is covered by the Equality Act 2010, which means that it's unlawful to discriminate against disabled people by recruitment and selection procedures.
Look out for the 'two ticks' disability symbol on job advertisements - this means that the employer has made a commitment to employ disabled people, and that you are guaranteed a job interview if you meet the minimum requirements of the job.
We have more information about working as a solicitor with a disability on our equality and diversity page.
The Legal Practice Course (LPC) is the compulsory vocational stage that you will take after completing your law degree or conversion course. The LPC ensures you have the necessary skills to work in a solicitor's office. You can take it full-time, which will take a year, or do it over two years part-time.
The institutions that offer the LPC can be found on the Solicitors Regulation Authority's website.
You can apply from September onwards in the final year of your qualifying law degree or, if you are a non-law graduate, then from September onwards in your CPE/GDL year.
There's no closing date for applications - applications are processed as they are submitted. Applications for full-time places on the LPC and CPE/GDL are administered by the Central Application Board. For part-time courses, contact the academic institution directly.
The LPC can cost in excess of £14,000, so it's important to carefully consider the financial implications of funding yourself through the Legal Practice Course. You should consider whether your time might be best spent in enhancing your CV to increase your chances of securing a training position.
Not all firms will pay for the LPC if you are offered a training position, and government-funded loans are not available for the GDL or the LPC.
The Junior Lawyers Division has more information about development loans and bursaries.
See the fees assistance page on the Junior Lawyers Division website.
The CPE or GDL is the conversion course that enables those who have graduated in subjects other than law to complete the academic stage of training that is required by professional legal bodies.
Mature individuals who have qualifications that are deemed to be equivalent to an undergraduate degree in study content and quality can also undertake this route. The CPE route is very demanding because of the quantity of legal material to be covered.
The Central Applications Board produces a guide which lists available courses, some of which can be studied over two years on a part-time basis rather than one year full-time.
The institutions that offer the conversion course can be found on the Solicitors Regulation Authority's website.
You must attend the Professional Skills Course during your period of recognised training. You can't apply to be admitted to the roll of solicitors until you have successfully completed the course.
Very. Competition is fierce as law is an extremely sought-after degree, with over 20,000 students applying to study it every year. In addition, those with a good degree can take a conversion course and go on to become a lawyer.
It's important for you to work hard from the outset, achieve top grades and gain relevant work experience to increase your chance of success.
Students that fund the cost of university life, tuition fees and the added cost of vocational qualification often incur debts of up to £40,000 by the time they start a period of recognised training.
While a career as a solicitor can be very rewarding, law student debt is a serious issue and you shouldn't take the decision to train as a solicitor lightly.
We have more information about the costs of qualifying as a solicitor. You can find out more about development loans and bursaries at the Junior Lawyers Division website.
Recruiters are looking for candidates with good interpersonal, problem solving and communication skills, as well as commercial awareness. You'll also be expected to have undertaken relevant work experience and have a good understanding of the legal environment.
You must disclose a character and suitability issue to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) at least six months before your period of training is due to start.
You can choose to submit an early disclosure before completing the Legal Practice Course. The fee for an early assessment is £100.
Further information can be found in SRA student information pack.
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