How to become a lawyer in the UK

3 min read

Your guide to becoming a lawyer in the UK

In the United Kingdom, there is no one path to become a lawyer. This useful article outlines the several paths to becoming a licenced lawyer. At each level, you should analyse the many possibilities and decide which one is ideal for you depending on your interests and goals.

Your first step to law – An undergraduate degree

Obtaining an undergraduate degree is the first step toward becoming a lawyer. You would believe that a legal degree like an LLB is prerequisite, but this is not true! . You  can undertake any degree to become a lawyer in the UK, with a range of options available during your bachelor degree-

1. The Classic – Law Degree

A qualifying BA law degree or an LLB law degree can be obtained at a university in England or Wales. While universities in Scotland offer Law degrees as well, these are usually not qualifying law degrees like those in England and Wales. These Scottish degrees usually need to be accompanied by a conversion course that converts them into a qualifying degree. 

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2. A Non-Law Degree

If you truly want to study a subject at A-Level, you can get a law degree in a non-legal subject which will teach you a range of transferable skills you will be able to use when applying for legal jobs. After the compilation of this degree in any subject, you should then convert to law utilising a ‘law conversion course’ . The disadvantage is that this course takes a year, so you will be a year behind others who pursue a legal degree, but it does provide you with the opportunity to study a subject you are enthusiastic about. Converting from a variety of disciplines is typical.

Some of these include:

  • Geography
  • History
  • English 
  • Economics

Your Second Step – Becoming a Lawyer – Choosing the Solicitor or Barrister route!

After graduation with a law bachelor’s degree, which may be law or non-law, you will need to decide whether you want to become a Solicitor (the commercial law route) or a Barrister( the public law route). 

Becoming a Solicitor in the UK would require undertaking a Legal Practice Course (LPC) or the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).

LPC OR SQE

  • This is a foundational course aimed at imparting knowledge about commercial and corporate law. This course covers everything from M&A, finance, economics, and taxation to even accountancy – all essential components of being a corporate lawyer.
  • This can either be taken through 6 months in  an accelerated format or spread out over one year
  • This is essential for preparation as a corporate lawyer in the UK
  • There is a small change being introduced to this route, the LPC will be phased out in favour of the SQE, a solicitors qualifying examination which will consist of two different tests – the SQE 1 and the SQE 2. 

BPTC

  • The bar professional training programme prepares you to practise law as a barrister.
  • After you’ve finished the course, you’ll have to take an exam that will facilitate as the bar exam.
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    Your third step to becoming a lawyer in the UK –  through a training contract or a pupillage

    Training

    As a trainee solicitor at a law firm, you will work for a large corporate law firm with the option to work in a variety of practice areas and departments. This is a fantastic opportunity to try out several areas of law and determine which one is right for you. After your training contract finishes, you can choose which area of law you want to qualify into!

    Pupillage

    Undertaking a pupilage Pupillage is simply barrister training that takes place after you have finished the BPTC. Pupillage entails being supervised and shadowed by a professional barrister, as well as assisting with their job.

    Your fourth step of How to become a lawyer UK: qualification

    You will be able to qualify as a solicitor or barrister once you have finished your training or pupillage. As a solicitor, your text will be qualifying as a junior associate in a corporate law firm, this will be a Post Qualification Position often called a PQE. As a barrister, you’ll want to secure a tenancy at a chamber where you will practice as a junior barrister.

    To Conclude

    Overall, The road to becoming a lawyer is not easy and might take a long time. There are numerous paths to achieving this profession, with different people taking different routes into law. However, the good news is that there are several paths to becoming a lawyer, allowing you to customise your path based on your desired field of study and method of practice. This article should have given you a sense of where your job path may go after graduation with the different ways you can achieve this path though this an inconclusive list, as well as what an aspiring lawyer’s early life comprises.

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