So, you love a good challenge and a bit of competition, have academic fortitude, and plenty of drive, determination, and patience. You thrive on helping others based on relationships built on trust, and you love a good negotiation. If you said yes to all the above, you may have the makings of a great solicitor. Whether it be working for a large corporation, a governing body, or a private practice, we highlight the necessary steps to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales.
According to the Law Society, to qualify as a solicitor the most common route to take is with an initial three-year law degree. If you’ve graduated but not in law, a conversion course known as the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) is compulsory to continue the further stages of legal training. After this course, the Legal Practice Course (LPC) must be undertaken to coincide with a period of recognised training. The LPC offers flexibility for law students, since just like the GDL, can be taken full-time for one year or part-time for two years. The final part of training is the Professional Skills Course (PSC) which is compulsory before qualification. Once all the academic, vocational placement, and course training is complete, you can apply for registration with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), and then apply for your Practising Certificate. It is this certificate which leads to admission to the roll and grants membership within the Law Society of England and Wales. Scotland has its own Law Society with its own accreditations, as does Northern Ireland. As with all professional practice, solicitors are expected to review their learning needs and address them through continued professional development requirements.
Financially, a trainee needs to meet the higher costs of a legal education. A three-year law degree, depending on where you study, could cost anything up to £9,000 per year. Add to that living expenses, textbooks, commuting to classes, and basic living expenses. There is also a cost for converting to law if you didn’t qualify in law as your first degree. Fees for the GDL can range between £7,000 to £10,000, again depending upon the course and location of study, and the LPC can range anywhere from £8,500 to £15,000 for full-time study. There are of course bursaries and grants that can be applied for, as well as governments and professional development loans available to consider.
Now onto the good part. Once you are practicing, salaries can average anywhere from £40,000 to £80,00 and upwards in large city firms. Obviously with career progression, there are additional opportunities for becoming partner.
Law is a very rewarding career path for those who are determined, dedicated and motivated. If you think law is for you, be prepared for the challenge, the time commitment and the costs. After the long road to qualification, the rewards certainly outweigh the effort, time, and of course, money spent.