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Qualifying with a law degree

The route most students take to becoming a solicitor is to complete a qualifying law degree. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is responsible for setting out the conditions a law degree course must meet in order to be termed a 'qualifying law degree', and you will find a list of institutions offering qualifying law degrees on their website.

Not all degrees are qualifying law degrees. If you wish to qualify as a solicitor, the programme you undertake must be a qualifying law degree.

Getting a place at university

Competition for places on law degree programmes is fierce and you will need a strong academic record with at least three good passes in any academic A-level subjects to get into most universities. You can choose to study full-time, part-time or by distance learning. You must apply for full-time study through UCAS, which has a searchable database of courses offered by higher education institutions, including details of entrance requirements and information about the universities and colleges.

If you wish to take a part-time course, apply directly to your chosen institution - the SRA's list of institutions shows which can be studied part-time.

What to expect during your studies

You are required to complete your degree within six years whether you are studying full or part-time.

The foundations of legal knowledge form the academic stage of legal education and are compulsory for students seeking to enter the vocational stage of training. You must obtain a pass mark of 40 per cent in each of these subject, regardless of the pass mark set by the institution itself. The maximum number of attempts permitted for any of the foundations of legal knowledge subjects within a qualifying law degree is normally three.

The foundation subjects are:

  • contract, tort
  • constitutional and administrative law, criminal law
  • property law
  • equity and trusts
  • law of the European Union.

After gaining your degree

Once you have your degree you will  need to complete the Legal Practice Course and the period of recognised training.

Qualification checklist for law graduates

First year

  • Choose your options for your second and third years, ensuring that you cover the foundation subjects:

    - Obligations including Contract, Restitution and Tort
    - Criminal Law
    - Equity and the Law of Trusts
    - Law of European Union
    - Property Law
    - Public Law including Constitutional Law, Administrative Law and Human Right.
  • Talk to career advisers, they will have information on the profession, career fairs/open days and work placement schemes.
  • Find vacation placement work - this will give you an insight in to the different types of firms and help you decide whether the profession is right for you.
  • Think about where you want to work and the area of law you would wish to practise.

Second year

  • Make full use of your careers service to discuss the profession and decide whether it's right for you.
  • Talk to members of the profession.
  • Explore funding possibilities for your legal training.
  • Apply for vacation placement work - this will give you an insight into the different types of firms and help you decide whether the profession is right for you. This will also demonstrate to recruiters that you are serious about a career in law.
  • Attend law fairs/open days. This is your opportunity to meet firms face-to-face.
  • Research the type of firm or organisation that interests you and prepare your CV carefully.
  • Apply for a training contract in your final term.

Third/final year

  • Attend interviews for a training contract.
  • Apply for a place on the Legal Practice Course.

Spring term  

  • Enroll as a student member of the SRA. This must be done before you start the LPC.
  • Obtain a certificate of completion for the academic stage of your training.
  • Apply for a training contract if not already secured.

During the LPC year

  • Apply to firms for a training contract if not already secured.
  • Check for advertisements in the Law Society Gazette.
  • Talk to members of the profession.

Starting your training contract

  • Sign your training contract and ensure that the registration form is sent to the SRA.
  • Attend the Professional Skills Course.

At the end of your training contract

  • If the firm is not keeping you on after completion of the training contract, apply for a post as an assistant solicitor.
  • Apply for admission to the roll of solicitors in England and Wales.
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