You can find out more about training to be a lawyer and the sector in general by looking at the Industry A-Z: Law.
Make an appointment with a Careers Consultant if you would like to discuss your postgraduate options, get your application reviewed, need information on funding or just have some general queries.
If you did not study for an undergraduate degree in law, you will firstly have to take a conversion course known as the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) before you can train to be a solicitor or barrister:
Once you have your GDL or your undergraduate degree in law you then need to take further qualifications to enable you to practice as either a solicitor or a barrister.
To qualify you will need to take the Legal Practice Course (LPC). You can find a list of institutions offering qualifying law degrees on the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) website:
Your training provider will confirm directly to the SRA that you have been accepted on the LPC. However if there are any issues that could impact on your suitability as a solicitor you will need to complete the 'Eligibility to commence a period of recognised training (Character and Suitability)' application on the SRA website at least six months before you start the course.
Once you have completed the LPC you will have to undertake a two year full-time training contract which includes the Professional Skills Course (PSC) at a law firm. This will allow you to put into practice the skills and knowledge that you have gained to date and develop them further in a work environment.
As a law undergraduate you will need to apply in June/July of the summer vacation between your second and third year (before you start the GDL if you are a non-law graduate) if you wish to work at one of the Magic Circle or large law firms. Smaller firms may accept applications only a year in advance.
If you don’t secure a training contract between your second and third years it doesn’t mean you can’t continue to apply for training contracts; it just means that you may not start your training contract as soon as you might have hoped.
Visit Law Careers.net to find out more about training contracts and to search for a training contract.
Some law firms may supply sponsorship for your GDL or LPC if they have offered you a training contract, and the Law Society offers a Diversity Access Scheme. However most students take out a bank loan to cover their course fees: you could also look at Professional and Career Development Loans (PCDL).
You could also consider 'portfolio' funding - applying for smaller funds from charities and other grant-making trusts. Look at publications such as The Directory of Grant Making Trusts or The Grants Register or search the Family Action Educational Grants Search website to find out whether you match the required criteria.
To qualify you will need to take the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) and apply online through the Bar Student Application Service BarSAS central application portal. View BPTC Frequently Asked Questions.
Bar Course aptitude test
You will need to pass the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT) which will test your critical thinking and reasoning before an offer of a place on the BPTC can be confirmed.
You can find out about the BCAT and take a practice test on the Pearson TalentLens website, and there are more critical thinking practice test links on our website. You will need to register and schedule your BCAT on the Pearson Vue website.
Joining an Inn of Court
You should apply as early as possible to become a member of an Inn of Court, and certainly by 31 May of the year in which you will enrol on the BPTC. You will not be able to start a course if your membership has not been confirmed.
Each Inn offers GDL and BPTC scholarships and it is worth considering the range and size of awards granted when choosing which Inn to join.
Pupillage is the final practical stage of training to become a barrister when you will practise in a set of chambers or Authorised Training Organisation (ATO) under the guidance of a pupil supervisor over a period of 12 months.
The Bar Council Pupillage Gateway opens in mid January each year and offers are made in early May. Pupillages are heavily oversubscribed.
Chartered Legal Executive
For those who have an undergraduate law degree there is a further option for postgraduate study, which leads to qualification as a Chartered Legal Executive. This is someone who carries out work similar to that of a solicitor and you can, by undergoing a period of qualifying work experience and taking further exams, go on to qualify as a solicitor through this route.
After graduation you would undertake a nine month graduate fast-track part-time study programme while you are working (the work has to be largely of a legal nature, such as a paralegal). Go to the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) website for more details.
Paralegals have generally completed some form of legal training but have not qualified as a solicitor or Chartered Legal Executive. The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILex) offer qualification courses for both law and non law graduates.
Applications and interviews
Our website has resources that will help you to prepare. If you would like some help with your course or funding applications or are invited for interview, you can make an appointment talk to a Careers Consultant. You will find that it's best to take some time to prepare your application in draft before you contact us.