Are you thinking of training to become a solicitor? First and foremost, it is important to be aware of what a profession as a solicitor actually entails. A solicitor is a member of the legal profession, and is the first point of contact for clients. It is a solicitor’s job to listen to their client’s side of the case, and provide general legal advice in the first instance. A solicitor’s specific work activities naturally depends on the solicitor’s specific area of expertise, however, generally speaking, solicitor’s deal with any paperwork involved with their clients’ cases, such as writing documents, letters and contracts. A solicitor’s client could be an individual, or it could be a group of people, private companies or even public sector organisations. If necessary, solicitors can represent their clients in court, however, for more complex disputes, barristers would step in.
It is certainly no secret that pursuing a career as a solicitor is challenging and extremely competitive, thus a strong academic background is crucial. However, that’s not all it takes. There are plenty of other skills and qualities required to fit a role such as this one, and it’s important to do your research to ensure the field is for you. Communication, public speaking and working under varying amounts of pressure are all things that will be expected of you in such a role.
In this post, we’re detailing the routes you can take to train to become a solicitor.
Although not essential, many aspiring solicitors study a qualifying law degree (LLB). It is the most popular first step to becoming a solicitor. It is offered by the majority of universities in the UK. The most popular way to study an LLB is by completing a standard three-year undergraduate full-time course. However, it can also be completed part-time, the duration of which lasting up to six years. This is a good option for those considering a career change.
Law Conversion Course (GDL)
If you are studying a non-law degree, you can still work towards training to become a solicitor. Once you have graduated from your non-law undergraduate degree, you can complete the law conversion course (GDL). The GDL is a one-year, full-time course offered by many universities.
Managing Director of Truth Legal, Andrew Gray, completed the GDL.
Once you have obtained your LLB, or similarly completed the law conversion course, there is another stage of academic training involved in becoming a solicitor, and that is completing the Legal Practice Course (LPC). The LPC is a year-long, full-time programme, which must be completed by any and all aspiring solicitors. It is worth noting that this programme can also be completed part-time, which is ideal for those who have to fit the course around working hours or other life commitments. One of the biggest concerns of the LPC for many students is the fact that, whichever way you look at it, it is not going to be cheap. Course fees can start from £7,000, however, the specific cost will largely depend on the location of where you study, and so that should be taken into careful consideration when it comes to filling out your applications.
Once you have completed your LPC, the standard route for many aspiring solicitors is to complete a training contract with a law firm. It is the final step in your training to become a solicitor, as completing a training contract means that you are then qualified to practice as a fully trained solicitor. The duration of training contracts is two years. Competition for training contracts is extremely fierce, and many students apply for this in their second year of university.
Our trainee solicitor, Aleksandra Cebula is currently completing her training contract with Truth Legal.
Solicitor Degree Apprenticeships
A solicitor degree apprenticeship is an alternative route to becoming a fully qualified solicitor, and is a particularly attractive option for those concerned about the costs involved in full-time study. Degree apprenticeships enables you to earn as you learn, and it is paid for by your employer and the government, which means no university debt at the end of it. Generally speaking, solicitor degree apprenticeships consist of 80% work and 20% study and training, which allows you to work alongside experienced staff and gain specific job skills whilst studying. The duration is typically 6-7 years, however, upon completion, you will be a fully qualified lawyer.
Whether your first step into training is studying a qualifying law degree, or whether you opt for a degree apprenticeship, there are numerous options for those aspiring to make this their career.
Written by Stuart Cooke, Blog Editor at The Scholarship Hub.