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Qualifying without a law degree

Everyone who wants to become a solicitor must complete the same requirements for the academic stage of training. These are the foundation subjects covered in a qualifying law degree course.

If you have another degree you can choose to either 'convert' this by taking the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) or you could join the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx).

Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL)

Most students who hold a degree in another subject choose to take the GDL course, which covers the foundations of legal knowledge required for completion of the academic stage of training. A list of GDL providers is on the SRA's website. The GDL can usually be taken full time for one year, or part-time for two years.

CILEx offer an alternative route into the solicitors' profession. Some students are attracted by the ability to earn while they learn on the job which the CILEx route offers. Further information is below.

Non-graduate route

If you already work in a legal office, you can join the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx), which is the governing body for chartered legal executives. The minimum entry requirement is four GCSEs, (including English) or equivalent. You must pass examinations to qualify first as a member and later as a fellow. Qualifying by this route takes longer than the graduate route, it is demanding and academically challenging, and requires that you enter and maintain CILEx-approved legal employment. The CILEx examination framework enables you to fulfill the requirements of the academic stage of training, including the foundations of legal knowledge.

If you want to know more about the structure and availability of training via this route, see the CILEx website, email or telephone 01234 841000.

Qualification checklist for non-law graduates

In your first degree – third/final year

  • Apply for a place on the Common Professional Examination/Graduate Diploma in Law Course.
  • Arrange funding for the conversion course.
  • Try to organise work experience - this will give you an insight in to the different types of firms and help you decide if the profession is right for you. It will also demonstrate to recruiters that you are serious about a career in law.
  • Research the type of firm/organisation that interests you and prepare your CV carefully.
  • Attend law fairs/open days. This is your opportunity to meet firms face-to-face.
  • Apply for a training contract in your final term.

In your CPE/GDL year

  • Apply for your place on the Legal Practice Course for the following year.
  • Apply for a training contract if not already secured.
Spring term
  • Enrol as a student member of the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
  • Obtain a certificate of completion for the academic stage of your training.
  • July/August - Arrange funding for the Legal Practice Course.

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 Solicitors Regulation Authority.
  • 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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