Becoming a lawyer via the university route requires you to complete a qualifying law degree (LLB) before taking the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), which will eventually replace the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and Legal Practice Course (LPC), although there are transitional arrangements in place up to 2032 for those who started their law degree, GDL or LPC prior to September 2021 and would like to qualify via the traditional route Law tutoring.
Those who studied an unrelated subject at undergraduate level may find it helpful to embark on a law conversion course and/or an SQE preparation course before sitting the exams.
The next step on the SQE route is to complete two years of qualifying legal work experience, which can include a training contract, before passing the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) character and suitability requirements. You can then apply for admission to the roll of solicitors.
It’s also possible to complete a Solicitor Apprenticeship, which is a six-year, Level 7 programme aimed at A-level graduates, paralegals and chartered legal executives. Find out more about law apprenticeships.
To become a barrister in England and Wales you need to complete at least three stages or components of training. These include:
academic component (law degree)
vocational component (a Bar course)
work-based learning component (pupillage).
After completing all training components you’ll be ready to apply for tenancy as a self-employed barrister in chambers or go into practice as an employed barrister.
You can also become a CILEx Lawyer through the CILEx Professional Qualification (CPQ) route. Combining work with study you’ll progress across three stages:
Foundation – aligned to the role of a paralegal
Advanced – for those handling cases at an advanced paralegal level
Professional – for those who want to be CILEX Lawyers in their chosen specialist area of law and with full practice rights.
Students who already hold an undergraduate or postgraduate legal qualification will not have to start at the beginning. Qualifying as a CILEx lawyer through the CPQ will cost a maximum of £12,500 – less for those with some kind of legal qualification, making it considerably cheaper than university study. Students can study through CILEX Law School or through a number of approved providers.