To become a solicitor you must complete:
The Junior Lawyers division of the Law Society provides more details.
There are usually more aspiring trainee solicitors than training contracts, which makes entry into the profession extremely competitive. However the Law Society's annual statistics report, published in March 2014 about the year 2012 -2013 stated that:
Read the report in full via the Law Society website.
Competition should not put you off pursuing your aim of becoming a solicitor; however you need to make sure that you give yourself the best chance for these jobs. Read the rest of this leaflet to find out how.
Due to the intellectual rigour of the profession, academic success is a pre-requisite. Studying law at university will give you a sound basis, but this won't make you stand out from the other hundreds of applicants. It is vital that you research the legal sector to gain a full appreciation of what employers want and proactively seek ways to develop yourself further.
Find out more about what legal employers want via lawcareers.net and the Law Society which provides a useful overview of the work of a solicitor and the skills needed. Also use the websites and directories listed on our useful sites and resources for law handout. Annual law career fairs and events run by professional organisations such as the Law Society are also a good way of meeting employers and finding out more.
Many law firms offer structured placements, usually during the summer vacation. You could volunteer for organisations such as Citizens' Advice or Victim Support. There may be opportunities within the wider criminal justice system; for example the courts or the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
The GDL (sometimes also called the GDip or Common Professional Exam) is a law conversion course for those wishing to become a solicitor or barrister and who haven't completed a qualifying law degree. Here are a few key facts:
The LPC is the vocational postgraduate course necessary to become a solicitor. You need to have completed a LLB or GDL to be accepted onto the course. Here are a few key facts:
To become a qualified solicitor you must work in a legal setting as a trainee solicitor, completing training in at least three different legal areas (called seats). You work on both contentious and non-contentious projects and complete a professional skills course covering: financial and business skills, advocacy and communication, client care, professional standards and elective modules.
The vast majority of training contracts are with private law firms.
The largest and most prestigious law firms recruit 2 years in advance, which means that you should start applying for contracts in your penultimate degree year (if you are an LLB student) or your final degree year (if you are a non-law student).
Some smaller, regional firms tend to recruit one month in advance, whereas high street firms often recruit as and when they have opening.
There is a list of training contract deadlines on lawcareers.net.
The type of work that you will undertake varies dramatically according to the organisation you work for. It is vital that you research organisations thoroughly so that you select those that suit your professional interests and personality, and so that you can compile carefully targeted applications. With so much competition, you need to investigate carefully what organisations look for and make sure your choices are realistic. Learn more about types of firm at:
Increasingly the role and standing of legal executives and solicitors are becoming more and more similar and legal executive are now recognised as qualified lawyers. They specialise in a particular area of law, and will have been trained to the same standard as a solicitor in that area. They have their own clients, undertake representation in court and, due to recent legislation, can now become judges and partners in some types of law firms.
You must undertake CILEX (Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) qualifications and then undertake qualifying employment. Here are some details:
There are sepcific times in which you need to be applying for courses, work experience, training contracts and membership of the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Timetables are at lawcareers.net and in the Training Contracts and Pupillages Handbook, available in the Careers Centre, MD.
There is a wealth of useful sites, employer directories and other resources about legal careers. Download our list for more details.