How to Become a Solicitor – What you Must Know

How to Become a Solicitor – What you Must Know

solicitor attire & clothing

As you should know, becoming a solicitor isn’t an easy task. But there’s more than one route to qualification. 

Becoming a solicitor does need dedication, hard work, money and talent but even if you start off with your legal training and then realise becoming a legal professional isn’t what you want it’s not a big loss.

Employers love people who have done legal courses or degrees; the skills learnt are easily transferable to other careers. It can take between 4-7 years to become a solicitor depending on the route you take. Let’s see how you do it…

Routes to becoming a solicitor

Step 1

There are two to becoming a solicitor which are very similar and only differ depending on if you have an approved English law degree. If you do have a law degree then go to step 2. If you don’t then you either need to complete a 3 year LLB law degree at university (if you have not been to uni yet) or if you already have a degree, but not in law, complete a law conversion course. The law graduate conversion course (GDL/CPE) can be completed in one year and will teach you the core elements of the British legal system.

Step 2

Now you have a degree which meets the standards of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) you can begin the Legal Practice Course (LPC). This course lasts 1-2 years depending on if you’re doing it full time or part time. On the LPC you will learn the practical knowledge and skills to prepare you for life as a solicitor. If you already have a training contract your firm may pay for your LPC and instruct you in regards to which modules to take.

Step 3

Now you will either start your training contract if you have one, or need to apply to law firms for a training contract if you don’t. When you start working at your firm completing your training contract you will officially be a trainee solicitor. You will need to be trained for a further two years before you are qualified and accepted by the law society as a fully trained solicitor. At this stage your firm may decide to retain you as a solicitor, or you may leave (depending on your contract) to find work elsewhere.

Step 4 (Optional)

To increase your legal knowledge you may undertake further training. This could be a masters course or specialised training in a niche area.

Becoming a solicitor advocate (or higher rights advocate)

Briefly; what is a solicitor advocate? A solicitor advocate can represent clients in higher UK courts; not just Magistrates’ courts and other lower courts. To become a solicitor advocate you must already be a solicitor. You may then apply for extended right of audience. The application success depends on if the solicitor has undertaken the relevant training (such as an advocacy course), has necessary experience, has competed the relevant tests, or has previously been a barrister.

Can I become a solicitor without a law degree?

The Law Society states that it is not possible to become a solicitor through the traditional route, without the academic side of the training. However it may be possible to become a legal executive instead and then qualify as a solicitor once you have completed the legal executive training. Look at our legal executive page for more information.

In summary, the qualifications needed to be a solicitor are :

  • LLB Law Degree
  • Legal Practice Course
  • 2 years of training at a law firm

or

  • 3 year undergraduate course
  • Law conversion course
  • Legal Practice Course
  • 2 years of training at a law firm

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