How do I become a solicitor?
There are two types of lawyer in England and Wales: barristers and solicitors. In this article, we look at how you can become a solicitor.
Walk down any main street in England or Wales and you will find offices with names such as Smith and Jones or Davies Peters. These are solicitors.
Every Brit will have to use a solicitor at least a few times in their lives: buying or selling a house, reading a will, committing a crime or if you are dismissed from your job (among many others).
There are approximately 100,000 solicitors in England and Wales and thousands of law students vying to work as solicitors across the country.
How long does it take to become a solicitor?
At the moment, it takes a minimum of six years if you follow the traditional path.
While a law degree is helpful, it is not necessary. You may be surprised to know that 50% of solicitors are not law graduates.
But you will need a degree. A university undergraduate course in the UK will typically last three or four years. You will receive a grade of a first, a 2:1, a 2:2 or a third. Employers are usually looking for a grade of 2:1 or above but will occasionally take on trainees who have received a 2:2.
The Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL)
If you did not take a law degree, at the moment you have to take a GDL to get yourself up to speed with the law. It is a one-year course that crams in everything that is taught in the first two years of a law degree. You will cover core modules such as equity and trusts, the legal system, contract law and criminal law.
Legal Practice Course
The LPC is currently required before you can become a solicitor. The course looks at practical skills such as advocacy as well as work on client care and your conduct as a solicitor.
After the LPC, you are finally allowed into a real law firm. A training contract lasts two years and as a trainee solicitor you will be put to work in several different departments within a firm.
Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE)
From September 2021, the SQE will replace the GDL and the LPC. At the time of writing this article, there is still some debate as to what this will include so watch this space.
What we do know is that the SQE will test candidates' knowledge of law and legal practice and as it is an exam rather than a course, you can choose to take the exam during your training contract.
Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS)
If you are a lawyer from certain countries, you can take the QLTS to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales.
The assessment consists of two parts. The first written paper has multiple-choice questions dealing with various points of English law. The second assessment is more practical and tests your speaking and writing skills.
* Get a university degree in law (or another subject)
* Take the GDL if you do not have a law degree
* Take the LPC for one year
* Do a training contract for two years