Becoming a Lawyer
This guide has been complied for all people who wish to venture into the legal profession and is ‘cut’ into four sections:
Initial Legal Training Becoming a Solicitor Becoming a Barrister Contacts
Initial Legal Training
A law degree is not a necessary requirement to become a lawyer. There are plenty of non-law graduates joining the profession – which means any degree is ‘acceptable’.
As with A-levels, it is important to pick a subject you enjoy and will do well in. The vast majority of firms and chambers stipulate that applicants for pupillage must have a 2.1 or first. Having a 2.2 doesn't put the legal profession out of reach – but rather restrict the number of firms and chambers that will consider you.
Bear in mind that in application forms for work experience and pupillage you'll be asked to include your end-of-year grades for your first and second years. This means that your work needs to be of a consistently high standard.
The downside of not studying a law degree is that you’lll have to make up for lost time after graduation by studying for the GDL, which squeezes into one year the seven foundations of legal knowledge, that are compulsory for progressing to the vocational stage of training. This is harder than spreading them out over a three-year law degree and of course involves the added expense of an extra year's study. On the other hand, a different first degree will increase your knowledge and depth of experience outside of the law.
Whether you opt for a law or non-law degree, the seven foundations of legal knowledge that must be studied (and passed!) are:
contract; tort; criminal; equity and trusts; EU; land; and public
Becoming a Solicitor
If you decide to take a degree in a subject other than law, you will have to complete a one year full-time (or two years part-time) course leading to the Common Professional Examination or the post-graduate Diploma in Law. The course will give you the basic grounding in law which you need to qualify as a solicitor.
After successful completion of the law degree, or CPE, or Diploma in Law, you will have to undertake the Legal Practice Course, which is the professional training for solicitors. This course takes one academic year, or two years if studied part-time.
Good academic grades are essential. The course teaches the practical application of the law to the needs of clients, and is offered by a number of different colleges and universities.
Having successfully completed the Legal Practice Course, the would-be solicitor has to enter a two year training contract with a firm of solicitors or other approved organisation (such as a local authority or the Crown Prosecution Service), gaining practical experience in a variety of areas of law. At this stage, you will be paid a salary and will be a trainee solicitor.
Becoming a Barrister
"The vocational stage" consists of a one year course: the Bar Vocational Course (BVC). Traditionally the BVC has been available at only one institution, the Inns of Court School of Law in London. However from September 1997 it has been also offered by a few, carefully selected institutions offering the BVC. Applications will be made through a centralised-clearing system known as CACH (Centralised Applications and Clearing House). It is also possible to do the course on a part-time basis over two years.
You should aim to gain as much relevant experience and knowledge as you can during the vocational stage. This might include: debating, mooting , work for a Citizen's Advice Bureau or the Free Representation Unit, attending court, marshalling (shadowing a judge), further mini-pupillages....
Pupillage generally takes one year, although it is split into six-month periods or "sixes". You can choose to do your first and second sixes at two different sets of chambers rather than one if you wish. Neither route guarantees that you will obtain a tenancy. In fact, "third sixes", undertaken by those who fail to become tenants at the first attempt, are becoming increasingly commonplace. At present, there are a small number of pupillages at the employed Bar (that is, work as a legal adviser for an employer; rather than in independent practice).
General legal websites
The Law Society - www.lawsociety.org.uk/ - The professional organisation representing Solicitors in England and Wales. The Bar Council www.barcouncil.org.uk - The professional organisation representing Barristers in England and Wales Trainee Solicitors' Group www.tsg.org - The official Trainee Solicitors' Group website including international information. Chambers and Partners www.chambersandpartners.com - Provides search facility for top law firms and chambers as well as tips on applications and interviews. The College of Law http://www.college-of-law.co.uk/ - Has excellent articles on a range of areas including overcoming perceived disadvantages to what recruiters are looking for. LCAN www.lcan.org.uk/ - The law careers advice network providing information and advice. LawCareers.Net www.lawcareers.net - Another general legal careers website, produced in association with the Trainee Solicitors Group. Legal 500 www.legal500.com/index.php - Lists and ranks top law firms in the UK and worldwide. Prospects Legal - http://www.prospects.ac.uk/cms/ShowP...ge/Law/p!ejmIL - Careers information including details on vacation placements, pupillages, mini-pupillages and training contracts. Target Law Zone www.targetlawzone.com - Information on law firms and training contracts. totallylegal.com www.totallylegal.com - A legal recruitment website that includes tips on applications and CVs. Black Lawyers Directory www.onlinebld.com/index.html - Aims to highlight, promote and champion diversity within the legal profession. The Law Centres Federation www.lawcentres.org.uk - Information on public funded legal services. Explains what law centres do, the areas of law they are involved in and details work experience and vacancy opportunities.
Last edited by Lord Hysteria; 22-08-2008 at
'Legal and sexual passion'?! Aren't those the only types of passion?
I would put it in the academic Law thread, as I think that is where most people post re LNAT.
Again...legal and sexual passion?
Last edited by Ishtar; 24-05-2008 at